Aug 012012
 

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 27)015

60.1% abv

Score:  87.5/100

 

By this point we all know what we’re going to get from a batch of a’bunadh. Enormous mountains of sherry sweetness…cask strength bottling nearly big enough to melt the glass it is decanted into (60.1% abv)…bold fruitcake pungency and cloying winter spice…hints of a few other dark and seductive nuances. These nuances are what make each batch magical. Some are exceptional. Others merely great. Saying something, isn’t it?

Though the batch release idea implies variation, consistency of quality is a forte of the a’bunadh line. There is variation, to be sure, but such is the spice of life, isn’t it? I don’t shy away from picking up each successive bottling, as I am almost guaranteed to like it.

A’bunadh is Gaelic for ‘origin’, as in this is an attempt to replicate the whisky of days past. Just like others that have done this, we’ll simply never know how close they’ve come to cloning these dearly departed drams, but we can appreciate the thought and historical bent that drives these creations, and simply be content in the proffered bounty.

So back to those subtleties and nuances we spoke of, and what defines this batch. There are some domineering tobacco notes banging drums amidst the sweet cacophony of rum, chocolate and treacle. Dates and figs provide a big bottom end while defined and rigid spices (clove, nutmeg, cinnamon) come in sharp and high. The sherry is the melody that brings this all together, imparting these flavors to the Aberlour spirit. I find this batch slightly more ‘green’ than others I’ve tried. More of the Speyside fruity profile shows through here as well.

Splashed across the taste buds are chocolate, dried fruits, sherry and oak. The finish is long and rich. One would expect nothing less from this expression. Something a little tangy and tart toward the back though.

To be honest, this one is simply not as cohesive on the nose as some of the other batches. This serves to make it easier to dissect for the purpose of reviewing and taking tasting notes, but it makes it a somewhat less engaging and whole experience. This does not a bad whisky make, however.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 7:46 pm
Jul 292012
 

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 28)

59.7% abv

Score:  92/100

 

Presentation is so much of the product nowadays.  I admit it, though I may preach otherwise, in the end I’m no better than anyone else.  I still occasionally get suckered in by flashy packaging.  In this case?  A beautiful deep red amber liquid in a wide stubby bottle with a badass old school wax seal.  Absolutely awesome.

“a’bunadh” – Gaelic for “original” or “origin”.

This massive Speysider is Aberlour’s take at replicating the style of whisky predominant in times of yore.  Un-chill-filtered…no age statement…straight outta the cask (59.7%!!).  Hence…’the origin’.

This particular bottle (which I am sipping from and reviewing) is from Batch 28.  Yes…indeed there were 27 previous batches (and another double fistful since), each exhibiting a slightly different character.  Though not single cask, these are single batch.  Aberlour selects a handful of casks to marry which they believe will most closely retain the character set forth in the a’bunadh tradition.

This whisky is so much more than simply a young  Aberlour on steroids.  It is huge and almost overwhelming.  Full of character and aggression.  It is heavy, complex and absolutely magnificent.  On the nose…big and bold rich caramel and sweet (Oloroso?) sherry notes.  Maybe even suggestions of cognac.  Creamy vanilla, cocoa and burnt sugar (not a bad thing) right out front with black cherry, raisin, sweet orange, and spice making up the body of this whisky.  On both the nose and palate there is a very definite rum characteristic.

The huge warmth that blankets the mouth is viscous and syrupy.  There is something dark and earthy sweet here as well.  All of those fruity/rummy/sherry and fruitcake notes open right up.  As it slowly expands and colonizes the far corners of the palate, that earthiness takes a bit of a back seat to raisin, demerara and dried fruit.  The finish is long and warm (to be expected), with a nice thick coating that lingers on and on.  There is a deep dark complexity that will leave you pondering this one well after the glass is empty.

This particular batch is, quite frankly, astounding.  I’ve had many of the others, but none approached the flawless sherry casking here.  Thankfully I managed to find a couple of dusty bottles in some local ma-and-pa shops.  Two more bottles for future years.

 

– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 2:03 pm