Aberlour A'Bunadh Review (53 & 54) - Cask Strength Scotch Delivering on Flavor

Photo cred: Matt Mark

Photo cred: Matt Mark

Aberlour A'Bunadh Batch 53 & 54
Aberlour Distillery
Category: Single Malt Scotch, NAS, Cask Strength
Score: 92 (Batch 53), 90.5 (Batch 54)
Whisky Cabinet Rating: ★ 

For whisky enthusiasts, today's lack of supply of old favorites is creating a frantic buying environment. There are, however, whiskies that are available and delicious. Aberlour A'Bunadh is one of those whiskies. It's not cheap in any traditional sense, but it is affordable considering it's cask strength first-fill single malt scotch.

Like American cask strength whiskies, A'Bunadh is bottled as unfiltered and unprocessed whisky at cask strength. This is likely young single malt scotch. However, it's first-fill Oloroso Sherry matured whisky meaning it'll carry a punch of flavor. Just like with bourbons, each batch is going to offer a slightly different taste profile. Tasted here are batches 53 and 54. 

The name A'Bunadh (which I can never say properly) means "the original." It's intended to take us back to a time where scotch was sold directly from the barrel in the 1800s. Back then, most scotch was aged in ex-sherry barrels. Today, much of the scotch we drink is primarily matured in ex-bourbon barrels. These scotches are lighter with citrus and vanilla notes. A'Bunadh is the opposite.

This is a rare find on the market that likely appeals more to bourbon drinkers than many scotch drinkers. Aberlour continues to deliver at a price-point with little competition. I've often lamented on how much I miss the now discontinued The Macallan Cask Strength. A'Bunadh makes that longing more than bearable. 

Note on tasting notes: The primary tasting notes are from batch 53. Comparing batch 53 and 54, batch 53 is not as heavy on the sweet and dry notes. This allows the oak spice to come through on batch 53. Batch 54 is more intense on the forward hit of flavor and the finish is dry. Batch 53 is truer to its single malt scotch roots, but both are likely to satisfy for whisky drinkers looking for a blast of flavour. 

Nose: The driest of Merlot, cherries, sweet vermouth. Some oak. Malty. Orange peel.

Palate: Cherry wood bomb hit, with peppery spice all the way through the middle and finish. A sour, cinnamon spice middle profile. Oaky dry dark chocolate finish.

Conclusion: It's not a perfect whisky. It's not balanced. But sometimes you're in the mood for an action movie despite the occasional plot hole. Aberlour A'Bunadh delivers just that. It's a wonderful casual high-proof sipper that has become one of my favourites in the whisky cabinet. It's a whisky that delivers.

*Whisky Cabinet Rating Explained:
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆  Not recommended
★ ☆ ☆ ☆  Good whisky, but not a ‘must-have’
★ ★ ☆ ☆  Your great regular rotation whisky that'll come and go
★ ★ ★ ☆  Excellent, a near must-have
★ ★ ★ ★  Extraordinary, memorable, and original