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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Single Malt Report: Aberlour a'bunadh batch 50

Now for a more recent batch of a'bunadh, number 50.  It's also a bigger sample, which I poured from this very bottle:
The correct pronunciation is "ah-BOON-ar", which is awesome because until last year I was pronouncing it "AH-buh-nad".  Ah yes, ever the expert.  I'm glad you're still reading.  Are you still reading?

The bottle was from an OC Scotch Club event two months ago.  After I'd poured it for everyone at the event, the woman next to me took a sip and exclaimed, "YUCK!"  I complimented her on the most concise tasting note ever, a description so succinct it would make Sku jealous.

Of course my notes have never been accused of brevity.  So to continue the habit, I broke this tasting up into full strength, 48%abv, and 40%abv versions.

Distillery: Aberlour
Ownership: Pernod Ricard
Region: Speyside (Banffshire)
Type: Single Malt
Age: 5 to 25 years (probably mostly from the very lower end of that range)
Maturation: ex-oloroso butts
Alcohol by Volume: 59.6%
Batch: 50
Bottled: 2015
Chillfiltered? No
Color added? No

The entire nose is blanketed with buttery butterscotch.  There's a smidgen of sulphur underneath it, then Sugar Daddy pops, cherry lollipops, butter, anise-infused sherry, and super buttery chardonnay.

The palate has much less butter than on the nose and less heat than batch 38.  It's mildly sweet with toffee and maraschino cherries.  There's a little bit of green grain in the background, and something occasionally smoky and sometimes phenolic that still sort of reminds me of sulphur.

Toffeed nutty sherry, maraschino cherries, salt, and vanilla extract in the finish.

WITH WATER (~48%abv)
Yep, still with that butterscotch in the nose, though it's gotten maltier.  There's a little bit of musty funk, but also some perfumy notes.  Peanut dust, American oak barrel char, and apple juice.  Apparently the sherry lost its grapes.

The palate grows creamier and sweeter, but also picks up some earthiness and good bitterness.  There's the barrel char again, almond cookies, nutmeg, and toffee.

More of a classic sherry retro-olfaction at the finish of the finish.  Malt and vanilla.  A slight cardboard note.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Hmm, as with batch 38, the nose gets grittier at this abv, more difficult.  Burnt nuts, metal, and limes.

Meanwhile, the palate is sugary sweet.  Cherry syrup, toasted grains, cardboard, and an eggy sulphur.

Cherry syrup, sugar, and eggs in the finish.

Again, a'bunadh totally disintegrates at 40%abv.  It's very weird and more than a little unpleasant when it happens.  This batch, unlike 38, seems barely legal throughout.  And there is A LOT of American oak belching forth from this one.

I like it best at full strength where, unlike batch 38, it's entirely drinkable.  It's also pleasant at 48%abv, though be careful with that water!  This one gets three points more than #38 due how it reads at full power, but then loses four points for its jumbled make up.  (That's some scoring for ya!)  This batch will appeal to sherry fans who don't mind a lot of US oak in the mix and a spirit that is not much more than five years old.

Availability - most prevalent batch in the US at this moment
Pricing - $70-$90
Rating - 83  (the score went up a little in the next review)

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