For this whisky review we are taking our first jaunt into Speyside, a region in the northern highlands around the river Spey (hence the name Spey-side…who would have guessed!). This famed whisky producing region has got the highest concentration of malt distilleries in Scotland, resulting from the great water source that the Spey and its tributaries provide. Many of the malt whisky superpowers hail from Speyside, including Glenlivet, Glenfiddich and the famed Macallan. Today we will be looking at the Aberlour distillery, not quite as well known as the above distilleries but still a very popular single malt whisky.
This review will be of the Aberlour A’Bunadh, an NAS (non-age statement) bottling that offers so much for the price you pay for it. A’Bunadh, which translates as ‘The Original’ in Gaelic, ticks all the boxes when it comes to what whisky should be:
Natural colour – check
Higher than minimum bottling strength – check
Unchillfiltered – check
Exactly what we want, even better than this it is actually bottled at natural cask strength! Our bottle, from batch 53, comes in at a whopping 59.7% ABV so pretty strong stuff, so a few drops of water may be necessary but it is of course down to your personal taste. A’Bunadh is matured solely in former Oloroso Sherry Butts and was first released back in the year 2000, with now 54 batches having been released at the time of writing this. So, without further ado, let’s get this party started!
Straight away you are met with a gorgeously floral honeycomb, some toasted oak and plenty of raisins, currants and sultanas. There has been some very good sherry cask maturation here and it definitely shows! Its quite buttery on the nose too, possibly buttered popcorn, though it is in the background behind the sherry characteristics. Quite spicy too, lots of cloves and cinnamon, backed up with a nice whack of spirit.
Very fruity on the palate, heaps of raisins and currants also dried cranberries and blackberries. There is a sherry taste to it but it’s not as sweet as sherry, it’s more like a rich, tannic red wine. After a while the sweet raisiny fruitiness becomes more citric with orange rind/peel and again lots of woody spice. Definitely some time and a few drops of water dramatically open up this whisky.
The finish is long and so rewarding with this whisky, having not been chillfiltered and being cask strength it just keeps going, fantastic. Tannic drying, sweet sherried oak and again lots of spice, nutmeg and cinnamon.
To be honest I find it very hard to find much wrong with this whisky, it has got everything and is just so satisfying to drink, it’s the kind of whisky you just need to relax with later on in the day and take time to savour it. If you like sherried whiskies then you would be a fool not to try this, especially when you can buy it for around £40-£45. By way of a recommendation I must confess that I’ve already ordered another bottle of the batch 53, even though I still have the majority of this bottle left, it’s just that good!
Gary & Steven