[Review] Aberlour - A'bunadh Batch 53 59.7%

A bit of a 'sherry monster' today, that is to say a heavily sherried whisky which has matured exclusively in ex-sherry casks, and for this particular one, it has been Oloroso casks all along. Aberlour A'bunadh is a name which has come back again and again when I have done some research about sherried whisky. Macallan has always seemed to be some kind of reference as far as sherried whisky go but I still haven't tried any of their bottling. To me, the Macallan hype added to the fact they have now discontinued their aged statement range to replace it by Non Aged Statements (NAS) have meant a serious bump in prices which I am not prepared to pay (for now at least). However, many other distilleries do produce more affordable sherry monsters, such as Glenfarclas (the 15 is on my list of bottles to buy) or Glendronach (which I have tried and will review when I manage to bring my bottles back from France!). 
Aberlour is a Speyside distillerie I was already familiar as I have a bottle of the 16, but I thought I would give the A'bunadh a go. I originally bought Batch 50 but didn't open it and looking at the evolution of prices lately, it is one for which I will wait and see... However, I got hold of Batch 53 last week and opened it straight away. Here are my thoughts about it.

Aberlour A'bunadh is bottled at cask strength (59.7%) so no nonsense here. It is clearly stated on the label that it is not chill-filltered and I presume it is natural colour despite not being mentioned on the bottle. The colour is a rich amber very close to a Cognac colour.

Nose: The nose is very rich. The first thing which came to my mind was chocolate followed obviously by sweet sherry and raisins. It gets fruitier with hints of cherry and some wood.

Palate: As it is nearly 60% ABV, the first sip without the addition of water is quite strong, intense and again rather rich. Like on the nose, I get chocolate, sherry and dried fruit like raisins. I reminds me of Cognac, just a richer and stronger version.

Finish: Long, spicy with raisin and citrus, some herbal notes and pepper.

With water: In my opinion, this A'bunadh does need a teaspoon or 2 of water to tame it a bit. I never add much water in my single malt, but it is the first time I witnessed some 'Scotch mist' forming in the glass (cloudiness that appears in a non-chill filtered whisky after the addition of water). The water definitely calms the nose down, bringing out some banana and vanilla. On the palate, the whisky is not as closed and intense as before. I can taste more vanilla, some orange, less chocolate but of course the sherry and spices are still there. The finish is still long and spicy warm.

I am definitely not disappointed in my purchase and could now be tempted into opening Batch 50 to see how it compares to Batch 53!


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