For background on a’bunadh, see my reviews of Batches 29 and 30. It’s no secret that Aberlour a’bunadh (pronounced, as the rep from Pernod Ricard stressed… several times… A-ber-LAU-er Ah BOON Ar) is one of my favorite whiskies. I figured that after writing about batches 29 AND 30 that I wouldn’t revisit the brand unless I someday bought another bottle. Serendipitously (how often do you get to use THAT word?), the Pernod Ricard rep at a recent K&L Tasting was pouring both Scapa 16 and the new batch 41 of my old friend a’bunadh!
As a reminder, a’bunadh is bottled at cask strength from a vatting (mixture) of Aberlour malts from varying ages (10 to 15 years old). 100% of the malt is 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 58.9% 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.
(This tasting is from the recent Batch Number 41, bottled in 2012 at 59% ABV)
Nose: Coffee grounds and balsamic reduction. Dark chocolate nibs. Black cherry. Much darker notes and less fresh or red fruit than previous batches, but arguably more interesting.
Palate: Familiar mouth-puckering raspberry sour, dark oak, drying tannin, and strawberry. Just like old times.
Finish: Very long, with raisin and resin. Mouth-drying tannins. The fruit here is dried and concentrated and doused in sticky caramelized sugar. Ends with some faint marshmallow (from the oak influence).
With Water: Slightly lighter fruits; brings out strawberry in the nose. Reveals balsamic vinegar on the palate, and somewhat tames the burn.
Overall: Not as much of a sherry bomb as previous batches, but more complex and brooding. Still burns like sweet, sweet fire. The price is not as approachable as days gone by, but $60 for a fantastic sherried cask-strength whisky is still not a bad deal. I continue to recommend this malt highly.