In 1998, Aberlour launched its first A’Bunadh, a sherry matured single malt, delivered at cask strength. Then, they regularly released new batches, clearly stating the batch number, each batch being slightly different from the others, with a different ABV, and always delivered without colouring. At the time, the price was quite low, and it was a success. And it still is, seeing that the last batch released seems to be the #74 already. Unfortunately, as with everything, especially when successful, the low price became a way higher price, and a recent A’Bunadh batch will cost you about £80 when it was less than £60 a few years ago. But Aberlour didn’t stop at that and in 2018, they launched a new expression, matured in ex-bourbon casks. We’re trying its fifth batch today: the Aberlour A’Bunadh Alba Batch #05.
Aberlour A’Bunadh Alba Batch #05 Review
Whilst A’Bunadh was exclusively matured in ex-sherry casks, A’Bunadh Alba is matured in ex-bourbon American Oak barrels, hence the suffix Alba, for Quercus Alba, the scientific name for the American white oak. This was at first a US exclusive, only available in 750 ml bottles. However, like the A’Bunadh, it was still bottled without chill filtration nor colouring, and still delivered at cask strength. And whilst it’s still mostly a US exclusive, batch #05 was itself released on the old continent (and the UK. Is the UK still considered in the old continent since Brexit?), in our classic 700 ml bottles this side of the Atlantic Ocean. This Aberlour A’Bunadh Alba Batch #05 was like the others bottled without chill filtration nor colouring, at cask strength, with a generous 62.7% ABV, after having matured in first fill ex-bourbon barrels. It’s still available mostly in Germany, France and The Netherlands between €69 and €79, and you can still find some in the UK at Hard To Find Whisky for about £75.
White Burgundy. A swirl generates a crown with small and close beads, taking ages to morph into thin slow descending legs.
Neat: medium intensity. Typical fruitiness from Aberlour here, with apricot, pineapple, with traces of nectarines in the background. Citrusy sourness notes as well. The alcohol feels softer than on the 12yo distillery exclusive reviewed some time ago, even though the ABV is quite higher. Some spices and vanilla from the casks, but no caramel nor coconut.
With water: It’s a bit rougher now, with more woody notes, whilst the fruits kind of disappeared.
Neat: Surprisingly dry, and a bit sharp. Some alcohol heat, quite some citrusy sourness and wood bitterness. Herbs and hay come through, as well as hazelnuts. The fruits are still here but more on the back seat than with the nose.
With water: Kind of the opposite from the nose. The fruits are more present, the wood is slightly toned down. Dry herbs are clearer.
Citrus, herbs, tin can fruit salad syrup (with a high pineapple proportion) linger on for a medium length.
You can feel the youth and at the same time you clearly feel the similarities with the distillery exclusive bourbon-matured 12yo. It’s not a bourbon-cask bomb like the original A’Bunadh is a sherry bomb. A bit too sour and bitter for me, a bit too much wood, but a nice dram nonetheless. I’d say it’s a bit too expensive for what it offers.
Bottle photo courtesy of Whiskybase.