The story with this whisky goes that a few stillmen found an old bottle of whisky from the turn of the 19th century and wanted to replicate it – and so, Aberlour puts forth a monster of a whisky – a cask strength, heavily sherried single malt. Each bottle has a batch label on it, and batches vary in quality but this is a longstanding classic and favorite of many connoisseurs. This bottling is from batch 44, and comes in at 59.7%, matured in first fill (i.e. new) sherry casks – deep red and brown in colour, with no coloring added or any chill-filtration. “A’Bunadh” means “of the origin” in gaelic, speaking to the old style of this whisky.
Nose: What a brilliant combination of sherry and malt. The cask strength on this lets you feel that at full force – sherry, rancio nuttiness, threads of rich barley, cinnamon, raisins, prune, tobacco, vanilla, and apples, oak, and fabulous earth. Brilliant- integrated, complex, and deep. 27.5/30 (92%)
Taste: Hot at cask strength, with white raisins, malt, vanilla, cinnamon, and oak all taking their turn in a slowly unfolding taste along with a consistent chocolate presence. There is lots going on, and the strength and complexity work so well. What is more, there’s a brilliant explosion of honey and malt mid-palate which works wonders. 28/30 (93%)
Finish: Buttery, after all the brute force of the whisky before – with a good bit of raisin, malt, malt loaf, berries, cinnamon, clove , mulled red wine- enduring too. Sort of like a good mulled honey, if there were such a thing. 18.5/20 (93%)
Conclusion: I’m grateful that the malt and spirit doesn’t get lost in this – with many whiskies aged in “flavoured” casks, it’s always a concern of mine that the whisky itself gets lost to the cask – but this is whisky, not high ABV sherry. It’s very integrated, without flaws…complex, and strong…wonderful stuff. Batches vary, and this is a good one – though there are better. Well worth a dram, and very good at cask strength, too. 18.5/20 (93%)