Aberlour a’bunadh Batch 52 Review

Aberlour a’bunadh Batch 52IMG_2382

60.5% abv

Score:  88/100


There was a day when each successive batch of a’bunadh used to light me up like a kid at Christmas.  Nowadays…meh.  They’re simply not up to what they used to be.

Let me qualify that:  these Aberlour releases are still better than most of the watered down, colored and filtered expressions from the big brands that are hitting the market, but a’bunadh has lost the edge it once had for its delectable sweet and fruity charm.  Now it’s just another cask strength (occasionally underripe) bruiser.

Even so, when my wife came home a couple months back with a bottle of this and a Kilchoman for me I was tickled pink.  One…because she knows me and was kind and wonderful as always, and two…because I know readers like to hear about these storied batch releases.  In short…I was more excited about writing it up for the site than I was to actually drink it.  Fortunately it was decent enough to be able to enjoy both.

I think the most important thing I can possibly say here is that a’bunadh is not what it once was.  Sorry.  I don’t know if it is a change to sherry-seasoned casks as opposed to proper sherry butts (which I hear many in the industry are doing now)…a shift to younger malts in the batch vattings…or simply a different style the blender is aiming for.  Either way, the deep, sweet, aromatic jamminess that made a’bunadh a thing of legend is now merely a background cello in an orchestra of instruments cranked up to 11.  Sad really.

By no means is this a bad dram.  Marks and notes below should attest to that.  Unfortunately, the benefit of experience allows me to say unequivocally that this malt is on the wane.  The nature of batch releases, however, ensures we’ll be curious to see if the next is a return to form.

One more important thing to say.  Less than two years ago Aberlour a’bunadh was about $77 a bottle locally.  A couple weeks back I saw it at $126.  Shame on you, Aberlour.  No amount of justification (currency exchange, market conditions, barrel shortages, etc) will ever be able to square that circle.  Shameful gouging.  While the wife and I do share a bank account – and ultimately I did end up paying for this ‘gift’ in a roundabout way – it needs to be made clear I would never support that kind of consumer-disrespecting audacity.

Nose:  Dark jammy fruit.  Creamy chocolate.  Leather.  Deep spicy sherry notes.  A slight cherry cola-ness about it.  Not nearly as fruity as old a’bunadh unfortunately.  Dark toffee and a hint of both coffee and tea.  Prunes and figs and such.  A hint of mint.

Palate:  Better.  More fruit now.  Berry jam on slightly burnt toast.  Damp wood.  Mocha.  Candied orange peel.  Walnut.  Maraschino cherry.  Dark, oily vanilla.  Caramel with some fruit.  Better arrival than finish.

Thoughts:  A little too sharp (or too young?).  Is it just me or is a’bunadh getting spicier and meatier over time?  Not bad, but nowhere near its glory days.


 – Images & Words:  Curt

42 thoughts on “Aberlour a’bunadh Batch 52 Review

  1. Chris 1

    All that is cask strength is not always good, as some seem to believe. I gave up on A’Bunadh quite some time ago when it began to creep up well over $100 and will now set you back just shy of $135 in BC.

    It was also starting to feel like it had a slightly irrational cultish aura with huge numbers of slavish adherents willing to pay the ever increasing price just because they had to have it. I count several among my whisky circle. Cask strength for cask strength’s sake is not good enough anymore. At these prices is needs to be very, very good.

    Your score seems generous, Curt, and slightly out of sync with your review. My impression was that you really didn’t think it was a high 80s malt. The really good old A’Bunadhs scored not that much more at around 90 points.

    Thanks for the kind of heads up on this one though.

    1. ATW Post author

      Interesting you say this. I waffled between 86.5 and 88. The bottle is almost empty, as I’ve shared it with many a mate, and it has changed a lot. Even within a sitting I fluctuate from the first sip to last. Ultimately had to go with the latter score, especially considering relativity. This is still better than almost all standard generic expressions hitting the shelves. Personality is huge.

      1. Jerry

        Master of Malt link below demonstrates that This product has not changed price in England.
        33.61 pounds for the longest time and only up 20% recently by batch 54+

        Now distributors have used the excuse of currency and supply for a long time, but if the Glenlivet Nadurra 16 hasn’t changed in price, if the glenlivet 12/glenfliddch15 etc etc hasn’t changed price over the period of time 2013 -2015 when GBP/CAD increased significantly, our only indication is that the distributors

        1) got less allocation, so they increased prices in order to maintain overall income
        2) are likely to maintain current price levels despite the recent 34% drop in GBP/CAD because currency isn’t a reason for price hikes
        3) may continue to hike prices due to reason in 1
        4) may continue to hike prices because they are greedy (this is difficult to get a bearing on, generally double the GBP cost in CAD is what I expect for fair price in canada, if I can buy it in US or france at RETAIL price and ship it here for less, then something is wrong.

        1. ATW Post author

          Tough pill to swallow, but the real truth is that we’re getting fleeced. The industry has drummed up this hype by telling us they can’t keep up with demand, there are barrel shortages, costs are increasing, foreign markets are exploding, etc. Utter bullshit, of course. Nuggets of truth in there, I’m sure, but nowhere near the impact that we are being led to believe.

  2. Sean

    I picked up a bottle of Batch 53 while visiting the distillery last month (all the way from Australia!) after the kind gent in the store offered to do a blind tasting for me. Ended up being the batch 53 and the current 18yo and I much preferred the A’Bunadh, but didn’t pick it as being that at first, maybe a tad mellower than what I expected (my taste buds may have been slightly weary after a tasting at Glenfarclas earlier in the day!). Still seemed really nice and the distiller price was bout $40 cheaper than what I normally pay over here. Still have some of my Batch 45 left and plan on doing a head to head once I open the 53 and see how much of a difference there may be.

  3. David

    I’ve been avoiding NAS in general but someone picked up a batch 50 for me to enjoy on my 50th birthday.

    I was recently at the LCBO and noticed batch 55 for sale at $100, essentially $5 more than I paid in January 2011, which is not too bad, especially since the dollar is lower. I’m not sure what is going on in Alberta… a lot of prices going up (Springbank 12 CS as well), and I don’t think you can pin it all on new taxes.

  4. skeptic

    Hmmm…. I preface my comments with a reminder that you have asked us the be frank and welcomed being questioned before.

    It doesn’t bother me personally, but the optics here are not crystal clear.

    You have said you won’t buy any NAS whiskies (you have ended your moratorium on the review side), and yet someone with whom you share a bank account comes home with a bottle of A’Bunadh…

    In a court of law that would probably not be considered an arm’s length transaction…

    1. ATW Post author

      Frankness is always appreciated. As are all the opinions, comments and camaraderie.

      I think I tried to drive home earlier the point that I won’t be policed by anyone. I said if I wanted to buy something I would buy it irrespective of what anyone else wants or believes I should do. At 38 years old I’ll do whatever I like and not really give a shit what anyone says. I never set a timeline for any ‘pseudo-boycott’, nor did I say it would go on in perpetuity until NAS was eradicated. I drew a hard line in the sand a couple years back and have now spent those years defending my every opinion here, there and everywhere. I can’t lie…I’m a little exhausted with being called out for what someone sees as a betrayal of ‘the cause’.

      Recently someone called me out for a perceived moral NAS lapse in regards to a Compass Box tasting we put on here in Calgary. Ignorantly she had confused our event with another CB event the day after. She was wrong and dropped it, but just another instance of everyone looking for a chink in the armor. I go to fests and have ambassadors say they won’t pour for me because I don’t support NAS. I share a pic of something I’m drinking with friends and get called out for drinking anything without an age statement. On it goes.

      I don’t mean to sound like a dick (and I’m sure Jeff and others are ready to pounce here), but two years later I don’t like the outcome of this fight. I’m watching other bloggers become disillusioned and simply stop writing and closing up shop. Instead I choose to speak out. Almost every bloody review I post here says something disparaging about NAS or slips in a comment about how much we appreciate those that adhere to an age statement. My own money still goes to the whiskies you see reviewed here on the site, but when it is my money, my site and my opinion being thrown out there I will speak honestly and not simply bend my words to suit the tide of those that want to use me as the weapon against the industry. There are numbers on the bottles I buy, and when I review something without a number I credit the source who passed me the offering.

      However, as I said before, if I choose to buy an NAS whisky at some point, that is my prerogative. And I’m miles past the point of caring what anyone says. I’ve been guilted (for lack of better way to put it) into saying ‘boycott’. I reject this notion, as I reject the idea that I should be telling others what to do.

      I pay to attend events that pour NAS…my friends sometimes buy it (though rarely)…my clubs occasionally use them in ranges…etc. So yes…in some ways those that really want to sling arrows will suggest that I support it, in spite of the amount of time and effort I put in denouncing it. The reality is though, I spend a fuck of a lot more on whisky than most people and when you consider that 98% of that budget is spent in support of age-stated malts…I think I deserve a little slack, and maybe the benefit of the doubt.

      So once again I’ll go on record here and say I will buy whatever I want whenever I want. Period. I do not support the NAS concept as a rule. I will continue to speak out against it. But I will not be a martyr to the cause. A lot of the fun of whisky has been leeched out of it by this issue and the continuing need to adhere to ‘rules’.

      Forgive the defensive, vitriolic reply. I think it’s time I write up another post and let the website explode once more, as there are many other factors at play here. I’m at a crux in life and some things need to change. Could have bigger implications than imagined.

      Cheers, Skeptic.

      Incidentally…my wife also bought me an ’83 BenRiach, two bottles of Octomore and a Lagavulin over the last little while. What she chooses to do – thoughtfully, I might add – out of a shared bank account or otherwise, is her call. I’m grateful for the thought behind it all.

      1. david

        It is interesting that I am seeing less in the way of independent whisky commentary.

        I may be mistaken but overall activity on this site has dropped, there are fewer reviews and certainly fewer of current available malts.

        This is not a criticism…it’s your site. Just an observation. I’ve noticed decreased activity on Connosr as well.

        Almost like people are getting bored with the repetitiveness of the controversy and are going elsewhere for infotainment…

        This will likely spill over to the industry as well, as people get tired of substandard fare that is not interesting to drink…

        1. Chris 1

          I agree with you, David. The whole whisky blog, whisky review, whisky commentary, whisky promotion milieu is in a stall. The story is not changing, the current chapter has been beaten to death. It’s like car alarms. Everybody hears them, but nobody pays much attention any more.

          Scotch whisky doesn’t seem to know how to define itself anymore. Where once it was distinct and unique among alcoholic beverages, it no longer knows to whom it wants to appeal, how it wants to taste or how it should market itself. The industry wants to maintain some sort of exclusivity in order to justify the prices, but they seem desperate to appear young and hip to the trendy cocktail crowd, loose and casual to bourbon drinkers as well as exclusive and special to the rest of us.

          There is a dumbing down, and sweetening up of the stuff (at least the stuff most of us can afford) that is reminiscent of the transformation of red wine 20 years ago into a sweetened up, fruited up drink for the masses. (Thank you Australia). Sure, there are still some very good whiskies that are still on the borderline of affordability, but they are becoming fewer by the day.

          It’s time for bloggers and commentators to move the discussion on, start behaving like critics instead of writing what is essentially free sample bait.

          I credit Curt with maintaining a very balanced and intelligent perspective on the current state of the world of whisky. He is one among a very few writing about whisky and the whisky industry with a damn the torpedoes attitude.

          Let’s keep in mind, it’s just a drink and a very small deal in the overall scheme of things.


      2. Jerry

        I’m not sure any brand ambassador should be able to get away from not pouring for you at a fest (common access for patrons) just because you do not support NAS whisky. If anything age-statement whisky is in a higher price segment now due to the NAS flood, and I for one still happily pay for Macallan 18s at 209 USD and tipple my Sienna on the side when the price makes me sad lol.

        I’m not sure anyone in a marketing position should employ negative reinforcement especially against someone like Curt who has an obvious following. Mob anger = less brand purchases

        A quick letter to the market dept is in order

  5. Ol' Jas

    I don’t see why any of us should ever expect a capitalist player (Aberlour) to do anything BUT charge the highest price they can get for their product. That’s why they exist.

    Even when a seller isn’t “gouging” us, it’s typically part of a greater strategy to maximize their profits on overall sales of their entire product line.

  6. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    I’m watching other bloggers become disillusioned and simply stop writing and closing up shop.

    I think it’s time I write up another post and let the website explode once more, as there are many other factors at play here. I’m at a crux in life and some things need to change. Could have bigger implications than imagined. ….

    Hi Curt,

    I see what you mean… at least in the first sentence I cited.

    It is frightening what is happening in the blogosphere and one has to ask if the critical voices in the whisky circus are all so frustrated that they fall silent. At least many ask themselves if it still does make sense to blog on whisky.

    In that direction the second of your sentences I cited sounds ominous – to my ears.

    After Sku, Oliver, Josh, bozzy, Sjoerd and others … et tu Brute?

    I was just about to ask you if you intend to voice the rampant whisky frustration in a feature of your own.

    I will hold my breath instead.


  7. Brent

    Swimming against the tide is tiring. Whether you take that as literal or not is up to you. But any time you are playing the role of David to the Industry’s Goliath it’s going to take a toll. Whether it’s here with you or Serge or anyone else. You are small, dedicated individuals going up against marketing machines and in the days of the internet as it is now the messages are based solely on volume to drown out the small players. It’s a classic engagement strategy of the electronic communication era – repeat your message ad nauseum through as many channels as you can and you will drown out the noise. It’s a common strategy applied by various activist groups and the “populist” or “common” view of things is what becomes truth, rightly or wrongly.

    Let me put it this way – you were never going to win because you didn’t play the game from a position of strength, you couldn’t.

    None of that is to criticize, it’s simply observation of how things happen now in the world. Those with power drown out those without. They get “experts” to politely dispel notions. If polite doesn’t work they go aggressive. The whisky industry has done what it wanted to do – raise profits. I’m not opposed to that, it’s how you survive. The contentious nature is where the line gets drawn that says it’s not about business any longer, it’s about greed. I think we passed it a while ago. At least for many distilleries.

    I’ve been of the opinion that the NAS stuff isn’t all bad, indeed I’m a fan of A’bunadh and expect there are other good NAS options that exist. But I’ve adopted Jeff’s approach and steadfastly refuse to buy NAS whisky at this point. I stock up on age statements wherever I can. I comment on Instagram “negatively” in many posts about NAS whisky. Honestly, I’d happily buy a six or eight year old whisky if it tasted good, as I suspect some NAS whiskies fit that criteria nicely, if only they’d post an age (hello, Glendronach Hielan?). But the industry wants to play a game. So be it, I refuse to support it. And you know what? I’m losing out on having some very nice whiskies in my collection to drink down the road because of it. But I’ll stick with the principle. Until I can’t any longer. Truthfully I’m morbidly fascinated by watching and waiting to see what Macallan does stateside – will they bring in the spectrum labels? I kind of doubt it, the market is too big and too important. There is a lot of cache in age statements in that market still.

    The NAS reviews don’t bother me. Really they aren’t much any different to me than the really high end reviews you do. I can’t afford those and won’t likely ever taste them (I have no KWM to go to and “high end” in Manitoba is pretty embarrassing considering what the liquor marts consider it to be (Talisker Storm – really?)). So I appreciate them for what they are – more information about something I’m unlikely to buy. Keep up the good work and do what brings you joy, not other people.

    1. ATW Post author

      Man…very articulate comments.

      Exhausting and trying, yes, but at the end of the day we have to strike balance between speaking our minds and recognizing it is supposed to be enjoyable.


  8. Chris 1

    Kudos to Lagavulin for age stating their 8 year old 200th anniversary edition. Let that be an example to those that refuse to do likewise.

    1. Jerry

      the joke there is that it has E150, as it is labeled as being colored in Germany, and yet has barely any color

  9. Jeff

    Although it isn’t true in Curt’s case, whether the battle against NAS ever could be won is an unanswered question for most, and in the aggregate for all, because most never fought it, either by word or deed. Many can see that NAS makes no sense in what it says about whisky, and they would gladly take more product information if it was offered, but actually opposing the current and active removal of product information is something for someone else to do while they talk about how they just can’t give up Uigeadail. It’s exactly the reason that Compass Box could get 7,000 signatures on its petition but nowhere near that many are speaking out or boycotting NAS products right now, and, so far, why those signatures have fallen into a black hole: that which doesn’t ask anyone to really do anything is quick and attractive, makes it someone else’s fight and, somewhat predictably, leads nowhere.

    For all the times I’ve read in various blogs that people “oppose NAS in principle” yet evidently support it practice, there’s an obvious disconnect between principle and practice. Surprisingly enough, the industry (much like myself) doesn’t really care what anyone’s “principles” are if they don’t affect their purchasing, because money talks and bullshit walks. If a lot of fun has been leeched out of whisky discussion over this issue, here and elsewhere, a lot of people have intentionally played coy and frankly fucked around and obfuscated with this issue as well, and the streams of fuzzy thinking have been relentless – although Curt was historically more clearheaded than most. I don’t dispute anyone’s “right” to write what they want but, as I said about Perpetuum, I don’t consider any of the NAS product reviews damning in nature, much less discouraging the industry from continuing as it is in any way and the Dark Cove review follows in the same vein. “There are some good ones” is no justification for NAS and the heavier hammer, in my estimation, keeps missing the mark.

    Some bloggers are slowing down because they can’t find all that much actually worthy of review, some because the effort is starting to burn them out, and some because they consider that what they do to have a net promotional effect for the industry (feeding the monster that chokes you) that’s only resulted in a more overheated market that’s actually starting to price them out of drinking, much less writing, and I can understand all of this. As a consumer, I only care about blogs insofar as they champion the causes of consumers – the professional writers are really just (m)ad men, the industry has no scarcity of people it can buy for a few samples, and neither of these groups do anything for me or for those who actually keep whisky alive through purchasing. To have any real value to the consumer, discussion about whisky must focus on what’s true, not just what everyone finds palatable or stands to make someone some money, and many bloggers really just aren’t up to the role of industry critic. Part of the problem, I think, was that many blogs never really knew who or what they served, so they were often relatively easy for the industry to co-opt, and that many times this did happen. If bloggers really want to know what’s wrong with blogging today, here’s one take (http://www.whiskyandwisdom.com/?p=897#more-897) – apparently, a lot of it has to do with not fulfilling your end of a business relationship with the industry – know your role, jabroni.

    As a consumer, I think this blog is valuable, and I’m grateful for it – things said here just don’t appear other places.

    1. Chris 1

      90% of bloggers are grubby little shitballs suckholing for freebies. And I’m not just talking about whisky bloggers. Many of them have Patreon accounts into which you can donate money in order to help them with their “work.” They blog or vlog about their area of “expertise” with as little as a few months actual experience. I’ll say again, they are essentially writing freebie bait, hoping to be among the lucky insiders.

      I agree with you, Jeff, and I’ve said it before, this is the blog that defines everything good about blogging for me.


  10. kallaskander

    Hi there,

    the subject is virulent at the moment since sku asked if blogging about whisky still makes sense.

    Here is another one about why it is not so much fun as it used to be.


    If all the good ones give up… what will be left?

    Let me recycle a part of the post I wrote over at Oliver’s dramming.com….


    I am sure you know that according to Jeff the whisky bloggers divide into two sorts. Independent ones like you and marketing machines like many others. Not only according to Jeff by the way but in reality as well

    I can well understand that the first category is very frustrated about the state of whisky. I feel the same as a consumer enthusiast and blog reader – but I do not run a blog I only comment and that I will not stop.

    One other argument apart from the fact that when independents like you stop only the commercial blogs will be left over is that your voice and voices like sku Curt Josh and many others that annoy the whisky industry are very badly needed.

    The whisky industry has paid agents like Nick Morgan or Ken Grier to spin their yarn and to justify what ever they think needs to be justified at any given time.

    Against the likes of Mr Morgan – head of whisky outrage at Diageo as I call him – there is not one or two opponents of us whisky consumers or enthusiasts in the flesh. There is not one counterpart person I could name.

    So the resistance against the decline of whisky and whiskey rests on shoulders like yours and all the other bloggers that stand up against the tide.

    That is tideous – pun intended – and not very rewarding. To be blunt it is frustrating. But it is neccessary. So please „Don’t give up“. Listen to Peter and Kate and know you are not alone and please do not forsake us.”


  11. Veritas

    ” Less than two years ago Aberlour a’bunadh was about $77 a bottle locally. A couple weeks back I saw it at $126. Shame on you, Aberlour”.

    I’m not sure you can pin the blame on Aberlour for that. The Canadian dollar has fallen about 10%, and if I’m not mistaken Alberta liquor taxes have gone up. In Ontario the price was $94.95 for years (when it was in the $70s in Alberta, then 2 years ago it crept up 10 cents and then almost $5 6 months ago or so. So while we started higher the increase hasn’t been that much.

    I would look to other causes for the increase in price and less so at the distillery. Of course the distillery could be to blame as well. But maybe the cost of casks has also risen. Anyway, there is much lower hanging fruit for shaming…

    건배 !

    1. ATW Post author

      Unfortunately we can pin it on the producers and brands. Nearly all of the big retailers in the city are friends of mine. I can tell you they hold to a fixed percentage for the their mark-ups; not arbitrary assignation of numbers.

      The Canadian dollar drop and slight uptick in taxes is not enough to account for this drastic an increase, especially as it is not even close to universal across other brands. Yes…there are plenty of examples of increases, but this is one of the most egregious.

      1. Skeptic

        But given the hike occurred in only one city / province I don’t see why Aberlour would target only one micro market and leave the rest of the world unscathed…

        1. Brent

          They didn’t target a single market/city/province.

          I live in Manitoba, Winnipeg to be specific. I’m saddled with a provincially run liquor mart, no variety, relatively poor selection of age stated whiskies and an abundance of NAS stuff.

          I have three bottles of batch #49 all sealed. I’ve had a couple of previous versions as well and generally like Aberlour whiskies very much. I loved the 16 which hasn’t been available locally for about 2 years (it was identically priced to the A’bunadh but got far less media attention).

          Batch #49 cost me $79 for each bottle. Given Manitoba is a small market, we tend to skip 2-3 batches at a time and when the next batch showed up (#52) it was very briefly priced at $79. It remained at that price because there were still one or two bottles of #49 and the SKU was identical. As soon as those bottles sold the price jumped to $99.

          Even more oddly somehow some #49 is back on the shelves but remains at the $99 price point. Calculate it how you want, that’s a 20 or 25% price increase. During that time frame (January 2016 was when #52 showed up) there have been no price increases on common things like Glenlivet 12, Macallan Amber, Cragganmore 12, Glendronach 12, etc.

          No, that price increase is on the distillery/rep given the increase has happened in other provinces. I wouldn’t discount the notion that there is likely greed on the part of the provinces/retailers either.

          FWIW it’s still a relative bargain in Manitoba though higher than it was six months ago.
          BC Liquor has it at $116.99
          MB Liquor is $99.99
          LCBO is $99.99
          Alberta isn’t for me to check given the privatization.

          I’m aware the CAD isn’t doing well and hasn’t been for at least 18 months or so, but everything else I’d consider buying has remained stable in price.

      1. skeptic

        Oh sure, greed is possibly involved… but I’m not sure that you can attribute a hefty increase in one (relatively small compared to the world) market to greed on behalf of the producer.

        Another example. Flor de Cana rum is a couple of dollars a bottle in Nicaragua but $33 at the LCBO. Sure, the ABV is a little higher here (5%), but don’t try to convince me the inflated price in Ontario is due to the greed of the producer. More likely the greed of the retailer…

        1. Jeff

          It’s an interesting point – but, with Talisker 57 North and the LCBO, I was told, point blank, that the Diageo rep “set the price” at $174.95. That was back a couple of years ago, and the current world price, ex-tax, is $91 CAD according to winesearcher. There’s no denying that this probably reflects the reality that Diageo knows the LCBO takes little or no stand against higher pricing as a reduction in pricing results in a reduction in the LCBO’s mandated mark-up, but the gouging goes on where it’s tolerated, or at least where it isn’t questioned.

  12. Gary

    I stumbled on your Aberlour A’Bunadh review while researching which single malt I should buy. Admittedly, I am not a scotch drinker, and currently limit my drinking to wines and ales. But, I want to expand my horizons and delve into the world of scotch. And, to be honest, I have not had a scotch since being in Scotland in 1988. Here are just a few comments:
    1. After my research, Aberlour A’Bunadh is going to be my purchase of a Scotch single-malt whisky, and this may be my one and only scotch purchase, so I want it to be the right one.
    2. With my nose and taste, I may not get the subtleties you describe in your reviews of “Nose”, and “Palate”. I would like to get some, but I don’t even get most of the essences described in wines. So, I don’t expect to get them from whisky.
    3. I just priced an A’Bunadh at $75 US or ~$98.50 CAD, and it is for a Batch 52 in upstate NY.

    1. skeptic

      Price sounds reasonable, though a little high for US.

      I don’t think you should get hung up on what you can or can’t smell. Everyone is different and pretentiousness comes only with experience… The big question is whether you like it or not.

      Personally, I like the A’Bunadh style. But I don’t know as that I’d pick it as my first malt in 28 years…

      1. David

        I agree, enjoyment is the key.

        A’Bunadh was about the 6th-7th malt I tried, but I tried it at my first ever tasting and I became a big fan. So much so I bought as many batches as I could for a while. Now it’s just another really good sherry monster. That’s because I expanded my breadth of whisky experience … and I now have a backlog of A’Bunadhs…

        I am not a proponent of entry level malts before premium by any means, but I think it is bold to start with A’Bunadh. in fact falling for the sherried style likely delayed my appreciation for good bourbon-matured and peated whiskies by a couple of years. Now I find my palate more open to other things, but I still like cask strength and bold flavours in general.

        I would recommend looking at something like Redbreast 12 YO cask strength or Amrut single malt (46%) or cask strength, maybe Nadurra 16 YO if still available.

        but if you’re only going to ever have one bottle, you could do a lot worse than A’Bunadh…

    2. ATW Post author

      Pull the trigger, Gary. Do it. If you find it big and overwhelming, add some water. Reduce it by a third or so. Let us know how you make out, mate.



  13. ATW Post author

    Should note…Batch 53 locally is now retailing at $136 Canadian. That’s about £84. Master Of Malt had this same batch listed at £33.61. What the fuck? Utterly reproachable gouging. How do we explain away a £50 difference? Simply no excuse.

    1. David

      The price increase is a local thing I think. It’s still listed (well, batch 55) at $99.95 in Ontario, a $5 increase since 2011. However, in Maryland the price has jumped to $135 recently. Unsure what that means as it has usually been cheaper in the US.

      But if it’s still a lot less at MoM I don’t know how much of the blame can go to Aberlour…

      That said, as much as I like it, and I freely admit I have a 10-20 year supply, or more, at my reduced rate of drinking it, there are so many other sherry choices, especially in Calgary, that are as good and less expensive. In the last 2 years my brother in law has picked up single cask glendronacjs (a 17 and now a 16) for less than $100 each for me. Th 17 was so awesome that as it was casked a month after I started medical school, I decided I won’t open it until I retire. I have no A’Bunadh of that character.

      I don’t know what is causing some prices to rise in Alberta (and others still reasonable like Uigeadail for $100 less than Ontario) but there are lots of choices…

      1. Chris 1

        $134.55 here in BC for A’Bunadh. I assume they all pay the same, but It seems that each provincial government liquor authority decides how much markup and taxes they can get away with. Standard issue stuff like Laphroaig 10 is now $93 here. .QC was in the low 60s a year ago, it is now $97.75. It’s completely absurd and I’m sure it’s got nothing to do with what it costs the government retailers.

        1. Chris 1

          Incidentally, my friend picked up 2 bottles of QC from Liquor Depot in Edmonton on sale for $44.95+GST. I think it’s only about $49 regularly. Sounds like prices in Alberta are all over the map too.

    2. Brent

      We’re still sitting on batch #49 in MB for $99.99. Batch #47 sold for $79.99. Will see what happens when we move to the next batch but I expect nothing good.

      Was just at the MLCC today and noted that the Diplomatico Single Vintage Dark Rum 2000 jumped from $107 to $147. A price increase makes no sense since Diplomatico released a 2001 and a 2002 as well, so those being newer are what the stock would likely be if they brought new stuff in. It’s just gouging based on the perception of what the market will bear. In the case of the Diplomatico 2000 I bought three bottles at the $99 price point before it was bumped up to $107, also inexplicably but at least it wasn’t dramatic.

      I had the opportunity to get some A’bunadh 49 at $79 because they couldn’t bump the price until all the #47 was gone but I opted out as it was right at the time I decided to put no more money into NAS whisky.

      It’s at the point where the only thing I buy locally now is beer. Were I not too lazy to make my own I’d stop buying that locally as well.

  14. David

    You’ve all inspired my to a 15 cc pour of batch 46… not my favourite but the one I have open. And pretty darn good…

    (…and purchased prior to any ATW NAS-related discussions…so shoot me)

    1. Brent

      Maybe I’ll regret this but honestly I think that Aberlour wasn’t doing the A’Bunadh at all for the reasons that NAS became so popular. It really preceded the trend. I recall other NAS releases, notably duty-free type exclusives at the time that I seldom if ever bought, but they were out there. It just seems that perhaps the success of some releases (A’bunadh, Macallan CS) combined with the lack of preparation on the part of distilleries (I blame James Bond frankly) lead to this notion (NAS) which in moderation wasn’t completely awful leading to something that has become an awful trend (widespread NAS releases replacing core age statement products).

      I like A’bunadh and frankly I’d still be buying but for taking a stand against the NASty business. I know I’m likely missing out on good products that don’t have age statements but it’s a principle.

      Frankly I’m still waiting for the collapse of the bubble which simply doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon. My prices locally continue to rise and the U.S. doesn’t seem to be getting any cheaper, nor does Alberta. So I merrily continue to stock up where I can, when I can, on what I perceive to be good value for whisky I enjoy. Thankfully I still get to Alberta a few times a year and the U.S. a few more. Couple more years of buying like I have the past couple and I’ll be set for the next twenty years, NAS be damned.


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