By now, batch no. 50 is the latest A’Bunadh released and when you are reading this, the number will be even higher. Saying that the A’Bunadh is a pretty popular bottling. Whisky always was intended to age in Oloroso Sherry butts. Today however, in general, there seem to be more Sherry butts available than the consumption of Sherry seems to warrant. Saying? There are some nice NAS Sherried Whiskies around, Glendronach, Benromach, The new Tomatin, but none of those are so heavy as this powerhouse from Aberlour. On average around 4 batches of A’Bunadh are released every year. Furthermore what makes A’Bunadh exiting, from my anoraks point of view, is the batch variation. Most batches are great and definitely worth the money. Sometimes something less interesting pops up like the notorious batch no. 40 from 2012. A few others from the 40’s range, were slightly less than perfect. I hope that’s not a trend. To be sure not to encounter another dud, let’s try an older version of A’Bunadh, with this lucky batch no. 13.
Color: Copper gold. Not extremely dark.
Nose: Creamy raisins and vanilla. Creamy with a little backbone provided by toasted oak and maybe from the Sherry. Some more wood, typical oak, and some dust. A lot friendlier than I remember batch no. 33 was. pencil shavings. This is a tale about wood, just without the rawness of batch no. 33 (which actually came from the Sherry, not the wood). Creamy, raisiny and sweetish. With wood. That’s it. Not a lot of complexity, but also lacking some red fruits, Oloroso butts can give off. Nevertheless a very nice smelling dram.
Taste: Chocolate, Ferrero Rocher cherries, than wood, fresh oak and pencil shavings (cedar) and some hints of coal. Quite hot (not raw) when sliding down my throat. A classic combination of aroma’s from soft Oloroso. (It lacks the meatiness batch no. 33 had). Nice hints of mocha and whipped cream. Tiny hint of bitterness gives the finish some oomph.
I haven’t tried it myself yet, but I understand this takes water very well. That is an indication of a high quality cask (and Sherry it held), since more recent bottlings can get very hot, very hot indeed when water is added.
OK, why not. With water the whole softens up a bit, and brings the aroma’s closer together. The wood seems to stick out a bit more, which isn’t a problem. It momentarily also enhances the fruity part, and the bitterness of the finish. Toffee, caramel and oak.