Aug 012012

Tullibardine 1992 Premier Cru Classe Bordeaux Finish

46% abv

Score:  86/100


I have a bit of a crush on Tullibardine of late.  Not so much the younger expressions or elaborate caskings of recent times (think crazy finishes a la Glenmorangie or Bruichladdich) though some of these are also great, but more along the lines of the older, sexier Tulli’s.  Perhaps this gives me a slightly skewed bias for the distillery, but if so…at least it is one that is come by honestly.  Through sheer dedication to tasting as many as I can.  😉

Having now confessed a general appreciation, I concede I find it decidedly difficult to pinpoint an over-arching flavor profile from this distillery (at least from what I’ve tasted).  While it is easy to explain to someone what they can expect from say, a Glenfiddich, it is much more difficult with Tullibardine.  For me, anyway, and I simply refuse to cop to referencing any other writer’s opinions.  I have, on the other hand, had enough solid examples from Tullibardine to know that they make good whisky.  Occasionally great whisky.  It’s also often the case that these malts will surprise by just how affordable they are.  Yet another reason to get behind this distillery, I’d say.

This particular expression is an 18 year old, bottled at 46%, and finished in ex-Chateau Lafite casks.

Here we have a nose rich in MacIntosh toffee (Y’know the one with the tartan on the box?  Can you even buy that stuff anymore?) and sweet wine.  It is slightly spicy and slightly grape jam-y.  It carries crunchy unripe pear and crème caramel.  All in all, a decent nose, but there is something slightly off here as well.  Just a minor tweak needed somewhere.  Not unpleasant, but almost like a misstep in a line dance.  Barely noticeable amidst all the action, but if you’re looking for it…

Now, the palate…wow.  Here is where this one shines.  Though the nose was pretty enough, the palate is actually quite beautiful.  Sweet and drinkable…tart and tangy.  Almost apple-ish.  Especially in the finish.  This is perfect development with no disharmony or off notes.

This is certainly not the best of the Tulli’s I’ve tasted, but it is absolutely a great example of the high standards that seem to mark this malt.  If you can get your hands on it…do give it a go.


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:29 pm
Aug 012012

Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 21)

59.5% abv

Score:  88.5/100


At the time of writing*, ATW’s review of Aberlour a’bunadh Batch 28 is the most viewed review on the site.  First thought…folks out there are looking into the right whiskies.  Second thought…time to get around to writing up a few of the other batches.

Batch 28 was such a revelation (sadly I missed 23 and 26 which were said to be the measure against which others were held) that I knocked off a bottle, then hunted for a couple more to shelve for that fabled ‘rainy day’.  I’ve gone out of my way to try many batches now, and those which I have access to will be reviewed.  For now…Batch 21.

My jaded palate is somewhat overcritical of the a’bunadh bottlings now.  When I say that, what I really mean is that the average soul out there could likely add a mark or two to most of my reviews in this line-up.  This all comes down to knowing just what heights these can reach.  Even the lesser bottlings are head and shoulders above the average dram out there.  If you’ve not had your socks knocked off by one of these cask strength sherry bombs…get shopping.

Right off the the bat…you gotta know you’re going to get your tastebuds knocked around a bit.  This is an immense and intense heavily-sherried whisky at a cask strength of no less than 59.5% abv.  I’ll concede I am not generally a water-in-whisky guy (and certainly not when reviewing!), but in all fairness…this one can handle a few drops.  Oft-times a sherried whisky will fall apart when water is added, but this one should be safe.

The nose carries amplified notes of densely-soaked oak, rum, caramel, sweet and sharp raisin and buckets of nutmeg and strong cinnamon.  I got tantalizing hints of dark cherry and a touch of slightly over-baked hot fresh bread.  Butter-drizzled bread.  And finally…somehow amid this dark forest of sherry, a hint of sparkling barley still manages to peek through.  Sadly…and maybe this is just me…in the tangle of all of these glorious bits and pieces I still find one or two…off…somewhat jagged notes.  Just a little off-kilter, mind you.  While still a great dram…this is not the best of the a’bunadh line I’ve met.

Sitting atop the aforementioned notes, I got a touch of anise and a hefty dollop of molasses on arrival.  Gorgeously mouthcoating (as they all are), these flavors will cling to the backs of your teeth.  The oak and a mild tartness were the hangers-on for me.

One caution.  In embarassment I just want to add a brief tip.  Do NOT spill this stuff.  A ruined slip cover for my couch attests.

If out hunting for your first a’bunadh, and fence-sitting due to mention of batch discrepency, rest easy…these are damn fine drams.  As I mentioned above…the worst a’bunadh will often kick the hell out of the best another distillery might offer.

*(over a year ago now, as of Aug 2012)


– Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 8:00 pm
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