A’Bunadh means “Of the Origin” in Gaelic. It is bottled at cask strength from a vatting (mixture) of Aberlour malts from varying ages (10 to 15 years old). These are all aged in barrels that once held oloroso sherry. Each bottling run (indicated by a batch number on the bottle) will have slightly different alcohol by volume, ranging from 59.3% to 60.9%. Each batch will also vary in flavor, according to the whims of the whiskymaker and the individual characteristics of the source casks. An unsubstantiated rumor holds that a hidden bottle of Aberlour whisky from 1898 was discovered during construction in the still room, that the workmen drank a majority of it, and that A’Bunadh is an attempt by the distillery to re-create the flavor and texture of that historic malt.
(My bottle is from Batch Number 29, bottled in 2010, 59.9% ABV)
The aroma is sweet and syrupy, like brown sugar cookies baking. Nose-burning alcohol and a twinge of cherry or cherry-wood. Strongly perfumed, rose pollen. Acetone.
The attack is fiery, unyielding. The body is syrupy and rich, coating your mouth like napalm. As it resolves on your palate, though, it opens up with fruit and oak, rich plum, red apple, caramel, treacle, toffee, and red pepper. Intense and intensely flavorful.
The finish is long and caramelly, hints of candy apple and molasses. It heats your throat and warms your belly. It also tenaciously clings to the inside of your cheeks and continues to smolder. This is a whisky to conquer.
Adding a dash of water does not reveal anything new in the aroma, to me, nor does it tame any of the fire. If you’re going to tackle this one, tackle it neat.
How do you compare the Batch #29 to the more recent batches. I ask because like you I am a big fan of this scotch and I need to get another bottle for my cabinet. My regular shop has batch #38 on the shelf, but . . . I have come across a bottle of #29! What’s your recommendation?
Hi Michael –
Unfortunately, I’ve only sampled batches 29 and 30 – (see review of batch 30 here) I wish I could try every batch that comes out, but with so many whiskies and so little time (and money!), I cannot. I guess I would suggest getting the 29 if it’s the same price (or similar), since you’re more likely to be able to land a recent batch easily next time that you need some.
Was just fortunate to pick up a bottle of Ardbeg Alligator for under $100 – looking forward imbibing in that . . .
Hey SN. I’ve been reading a lot here to thanks. I saw some batch 29 at a smaller liquor store in Illinois for $58. Should I go for it? I enjoy all types of whiskys from sherry bombs to peat monsters. I’ve been into the highlands recently because it’s a nice compromise of the regions, I feel. I am sure I would really like this but didn’t know if there are any other batches I should seek out or jump on the 29 while I could. Also, is that a good price? Thanks for the good reads!!
Yes, $58 is a good price. I think all the abunadh batches are worth buying, with the possible exception of 46 (and I only heard of one bad experience with 46). As long as you’re prepared for the cask-strength ABV, or are planning to water it down to around 46% ABV, I think you should go for it. Cheers!
Thanks! I’ll probably pick it up and let you know what I think!