Aberlour A’Bunadh (Batch 41)

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.

Aberlour A’Bunadh (Batch 41)
59% (varies by batch) ABV
ScotchNoob™ Mark:
Price Range: $60-$80
Acquired: (1/4 oz pour) K&L Spirits Tasting

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  • Glad to see you once again reviewing this superb whisky. I am constantly intoducing my family and friends to this great malt. Since our last contact a few weeks ago I did in fact pick up that bottle of batch 29 that I had come across and am continuining to enjoy it. When asked by someone recently to narrow down my personal favorites to just a couple, my choices were the a’bunadh and the Uigeadail (have a thing for sherry casks . . .) – one could be content with ony those two for the rest of ones life. Fortunately, we don’t have to make that choice!

  • I found a few bottles of this a few months at the Cleveland, Ohio Coast Guard PX/Class 6 for $48/bottle (mid-Sept 2012). I bought two. Have not tried, because I am out of town for a few more weeks. However, you have to be (or been retired) from the military to get access to this deal. Fort Dix, NJ has Batch 29 (as for July 2012) for about the same price. Ask a military buddy to help you out. The military bases stateside usually have pretty good deals in scotch. I stock-up when in the Fort Meade, MD area…one of the better selections.

  • Just wanted to mention that I came across the Batch 41 at a random liquor store in the Los Angeles, CA area and picked it up for $63. It was their last bottle of it. I broke the seal last night for a dram, and I have to say that it was a fantastic recommendation on your part. A great whiskey at a great value, and an excellent addition to my shelf. I’ll be saving this one for the special occasions. Thanks for the good reviews.

  • I’m not big into single malt but cask 41 is wonderful. I place one ice cube and the flavors just explode.My friends love it. The cost is about $60. in Charleston,SC.

  • Just found the heaviest handed bartender in Manhattan Kansas!
    My batch 39 was about 3 1/2 ounces. No complaint except
    I couldn’t swirl right away.
    This is the earliest I’ve ever added water to a Scotch in my
    three months of experimentation. I’m getting the slightest peppermint
    and oak on the nose. I want to say evergreen on the palate.
    The finish isn’t as long as you described on the batch 41 but substantial and delicious.
    I am getting that marshmallow you mentioned.

    OK! It’s either Great King Street or Talisker 10 next.

  • This (batch 41) is my third A’bunadh. I regret nothing other than not saving a little to compare. But…… such is the life of a malt monster.

    Price here in Australia $100 AUD…. thats $101.36 USD!!!!

    Thats a lot of coin for world’s smallest continent 🙂

  • I’m fairly new to scotch tasting. Been drinking Chivas for years. My neighbor introduced me to Aberlour A’bunadh and I’m never going back. I was concerned about the price at first, ($61-85) but then, compared to a good bottle of wine…I worry no more. At least a bottle of scotch lasts longer than one night. Great nose, smooth and that lingering after taste is wonderful.

  • I recently have turned my boyfriend on to Aberlour A’bunadh and am proud to say that I bought him “the best scotch he’s ever had”. That being said I like to out do myself. I would like to stick with a Speyside scotch since he isn’t a huge fan of the smokiness from the peat. I have also bought him Glenmorangie 12 Nectar and Aberlour 12(for a slightly cheaper daily). He wasn’t a huge fan of the Glenmorangie and of course the 12 does well for being cheaper but still isn’t as good as the A’bunadh. Besides scotch he also enjoys Jameson and red wine. I was thinking about buying him GlenDronach 12 to try and see if it would be worthy of his daily but like I said I need to buy him a good Scotch that will for sure out do the A’bunadh. Budget would be around 125 or 150. Any suggestions?

    • The abunadh is pretty tough to beat! He might have been turned off by the Glenmorangie because the abunadh is cask strength, and thus a lot more “potent”… unless he’s diluting it down to normal strength with water (which is a perfectly fine practice). I think the GlenDronach 12 is indeed better than the Aberlour 12. Glengoyne 17 might also be a good option – it’s similarly sherried. Macallan 18, of course, is better but very overpriced (I stopped buying it in protest :). Glenrothes 1994 is very good, if you can find it.

      You could take a risk on Highland Park 18 – it’s sherried like abunadh, but it’s also lightly peated. It’s nothing like the heavily-peated Islay malts, though, so it might be a good introduction to peat. You could also try to introduce something non-sherried as a way to expand his horizons… something like The Balvenie Single Barrel 15 year, or Oban 14 (or even better, 18). Good luck!

      • Aberlour 18 and Abnerlour 16 make fine additions to the Aberlour A’bunnadh. I also agree with the Oban 14 recommendation.

        I never met a Macallan I liked.

  • […] I just bought a bottle of Aberlour A'bunadh(pronounced a-boon-arh [damn Gaelic and it's anti-phonetic ways ] batch 41,truly an amazing scotch. It's cask strength at 59% abv and aged in oloroso sherry butts. Tastes of raisins and dried red fruits, etc.. It has no age statement on it but according to wikepedia it ranges from 5 to 25 year old whiskies. Also from wikepedia: Rumour has it that when the second pair of stills were put in 1975, a time capsule was discovered behind the name plate, containing an 1898 newspaper about the distillery fire wrapped around an 1898 bottle of Aberlour. The workmen who discovered the bottle polished off four-fifths of the bottle during their lunch break, but the remains of the bottle went off to the laboratories in Keith, and were analysed. A'bunadh is an attempt to recreate this single malt. Nice little story but if your workers polished off 4/5th's of a bottle they probably woukd have downed the whole thing I think. If you are a cigar aficionado this is suppose to pair very nicely with one too. //scotchnoob.com/2012/09/24/abe…nadh-batch-41/ […]

  • I don’t know if it’s the particular bottle I have (Batch 45), but I found this A’bunadh unbearably hot at full strength, and even after watering it down it remains harsh on the finish.

    I’ve recently had Knob Creek Single Barrel (120 proof) without encountering the same fire, so I don’t think it is just the alcohol. I hate to cross the A’bunadh off my list entirely due to all the positive reviews here, but at least based on this bottle I’ll be sticking to Macallan or Glendronach for sherry cask flavor.

    • Just to note that the bitter notes seem to have mellowed a bit after a month, and I can see the potential in this – even with a large splash of water this is an intense whiskey.

    • Joel, I completely agree—at the risk of offending the legion of loyal admirers this dram calls its own. I was an ardent lover of bourbon before discovering the much more interesting world of scotch, and regularly drank barrel-proof monsters like Booker’s and Stagg Jr., both with higher ABV than AA. The alcohol with those didn’t bother me much, but I think that was due to the fact that bourbon is so limited in breadth of flavors and sophistication; on the other hand, the alcohol with the AA, in my opinion, almost mutes the flavors (that may be) lying underneath the fire. I get sherry, hard orange candy, and maybe some brown sugar, but it’s all for naught because of the ABV. I’ve added water, I’ve let it air for half an hour—no difference. My bottle is Batch 49, and it’s interesting to note that Ralfy of Ralfy.com isn’t as big a fan of the more recent batches. His working assumption is that Aberlour is probably using younger spirit. I love my sherried whisky, but I don’t care for AA.

      • This is a helpful post for me. I’ve been eyeing the A’bunadh every time I’m in the store recently, but haven’t pulled the trigger (its $85 here in Iowa right now). I’ve got a bottle of Stagg Jr that I’m struggling with. I love the enormous waves of flavor in it, but even with several drops of water the alcohol heat is just muted enough for me to enjoy the actual bourbon flavors. I think I’ll be avoiding these new batches of A’bunadh. Sounds like an $80 drop for a special occasion dram can be much better spent on a bottle of Corryvreckan…

  • Scapa 16 and a’bunadh! My two favs of all time!
    Really want to try more Scapa product but hard to get in Aus.
    Have u tried the Tasmanian whiskys from Sullivan’s Cove (sngl cask French oak),Lark (sngl malt cask strength)or any of the herculean Heartwood range? Patriotic bias maybe but all are superb and perhaps deserve a spot on your shelf.
    I do enjoy reading all your reviews. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Stew. It’s hard to find Tasmanian whiskies here, although I’ve heard excellent things about both Sullivan’s Cove and Lark. When those whiskies do make it to the States, the various taxes and duties hike up the prices to above $80 a bottle (some of them, a lot higher). That puts them out of the range of “grab and try” – and I haven’t yet found a way to sample them. Someday I will!

  • Completely new to Scotch here. Prior to this bottle of A’bunadh batch 50, I’d only tried Glenmorangie 10, Dalwinnie 15, and one glass of a Japanese that was smooth as silk. While all of that was wonderful, I didn’t fully “get” Scotch. Until now. This stuff is sex in a bottle. Holy christmas, I can’t keep my nose out of the glass. That I’m writing comments at all is the proof of something!

    I don’t have nearly the refined vocabulary to describe it. I’ll leave that to experts. I’ve figured out I don’t like this chilled or watered down. Don’t seek to mitigate anything. Just take the intensity of it and appreciate the full body reaction it produces from the tip of your tongue down to the bones. Incredibly potent.

    Thanks for the wonderful reviews and recommendations. It definitely influenced my willingness to try something that otherwise would have seemed a little extreme. What great rewards there can be for not playing it safe!

  • Some years ago, returning to Japan, I bought an Aberlour export at Heathrow for my Japanese boss who was a bit of a hard stuff drinker . As customary at the stroke of 5 pm out came the whisky and sake bottles, I offered my boss the Abelour, which he downed in one gulp, collapsing on the floor and clutching his throat, much to the amusement of his fellow Japanese. When he could speak again, he looked at the label – not the usual 40 – this was 60 – and said he should have been warned.

    After that he treated the Abelour with much more respect.

    Unfortunately he was not able to find the same Abelour in Tokyo when the bottle was empty, and that was my last trip to Japan.

  • I just picked up a bottle of batch 55 at 60.9% at a place called Liquors Hasegawa near Tokyo station. The place has a good selection and offers samples of many of the bottles they have in stock for a mere 150 yen, more for the pricey stuff.

    If he really liked it I’m sure he could find another bottle there!

    Oh, and I haven’t tried the batch 55 yet. Saving it for an occasion. 🙂

  • Finally trying AA, and my introduction is batch 46. I’ve read some mixed reviews about this batch so I was a bit apprehensive. Well, I haven’t tried any earlier batches, so I don’t really have a reference of comparison to other batches, but I don’t understand the neighsayers. This stuff is wonderful as far as I’m concerned. I’ve got a bottle of batch 54 in my cabinet that I’m now looking forward to as well. I’ll keep looking for earlier batches, but A’bunadh is definitely one of my new favorite Scotch Whiskys.