Aberlour A'Bunadh Review Header

Aberlour A’Bunadh Review

In Scotch Whiskey Reviews by Jarrod Lapato17 Comments


Meaning ‘the original’ in Gaelic, A’bunadh is made in homage to Aberlour’s founder, James Fleming. A’bunadh is a whisky hand-made from start to finish with each batch being created to ensure a rich and complex flavour of moist raisin, and homemade fruit cake. It is bottled at cask strength resulting in a robust and deeply intense, Sherried whisky.Aberlour
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Aberlour A’Bunadh Scotch Whisky


  • DISTILLER: Aberlour Distillery
  • MASH BILL: 100% Malted Barley
  • AGE: NAS (said to contain whiskies aged 5 -25 years)
  • YEAR: 2014 – Batch 49
  • PROOF: 120.2 (60.1% ABV)
  • MSRP: $84.99
  • BUY ONLINE: Wine-Searcher.com
NOSE: Red Berries | Cherry | Clover & Cinnamon | Oak | Citrus

TASTE: Dried Fruits | Sherry Soaked Oak | Dark Chocolate | Strawberry | Spice

FINISH: Long and luscious. The sweetness of the red fruit lingers and is eventually replaced by a bitter sweet chocolate, spice and oak. A little water opens up the whisky and reveals more of the fruitier side of the profile, but at the cost of that rich, chewy mouth feel.

SHARE WITH: Everyone! Seriously, everyone of legal drinking age, with any remote interest in whisk(e)y, needs to try this at least once in their lives. I suppose there could be someone out there, somewhere, who won’t enjoy this, but they’ll never know if they don’t try it. Now if someone has specifically told you that they hate mouthwateringly delicious cask strength Sherry bombs… then I wouldn’t bother sharing with them.

WORTH THE PRICE: The price differences from various retailers in various states / countries are vast. The wine-searcher.com link above lists prices from a low of $62.99 all the way up to $104.98. Here in NE Florida, our local ABC Fine Wine & Spirits has it on the shelves at $113.99! (You’re killin’ me, ABC!) While I would much prefer to spend the suggested retail price of $85 on a bottle, considering today’s ever increasing prices, and the fact that this is a cask strength monster that will leave you weak and limp in a puddle of your own drool, I begrudgingly concede that even at the higher end of the range, it is still worth consideration if this falls in your wheelhouse.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: While this is a rather well known whisky among scotch drinkers, with an almost cult-like following, I haven’t seen it all that often at your average corner bar, but I would suspect that any bar that prides itself on its whisky selection would have it on the menu. Definitely try it if you run across it, but if you already know you enjoy intensely sherried whiskies, just get a bottle… you’re going to want another pour tomorrow anyway.

OVERALL: Maybe you’ve already figured this out, but I’m a huge fan. While I admittedly still have mixed feelings about NAS whiskies, (a topic for another post altogether) this is a fantastic pour. It is not one that I’d reach for as I plop down on the couch after a long stressful day when you just need to unwind. No… this one deserves a little more attention and should be savored after dinner in your pajamas. I mean, it takes me 20 minutes to take the first sip because I have a hard time moving on from the deliciously enticing nose.

The entire Aberlour range is quite nice, from the “entry level” 12 year old Double Cask (matured in a mix of traditional oak ex-bourbon barrels and seasoned sherry butts) right up to the top of the range 18 year old Double Cask, claiming to be the “richest and most indulgent Aberlour expression.” The A’Bunadh falls somewhere between the two extremes, in both cost and profile. For those who enjoy the sherry influence as much as I do, the fact that A’Bunadh is aged exclusively in first-fill Oloroso sherry butts, an oddity in the scotch world, and is non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength, should be reason enough to give this one a try. From the Aberlour website, this process results in “a heavier, creamier single malt than most have ever experienced – memorably flavoursome, with an intense raisin character.”

However, something to keep in mind as you begin your hunt for a bottle of your own is that not all A’Bunadhs are created equally and the “Batch #” is something you at least need to be aware of.  Now don’t get me wrong, I have faith that the same amount of love and dedication goes into creating each batch, but due to the simple fact that the batches are released periodically in smaller quantities, some variation between batches is to be expected. This can be a blessing, and a curse. A blessing because, well, it’s always nice to have a little variety and each batch should theoretically taste a little different. But the other side of the coin is that this same variety inevitably leads to some batches tasting “better” than others… theoretically. I put “better” in quotes because as we all know by now, taste is highly subjective, but there does seem to be a general consensus that certain batches stand out as being exceptional, while others are met with far less fanfare. By pure chance, I happened to have selected Batch 49, which seems to be one of the many standouts, but everyone seems to have their own favorite.

If you have tried this before, or already have a bottle at home, I’d love to hear which batch you have and what you thought of it. Or if you’ve had multiple batches, how did they compare and were you able to detect any subtle differences between them? Because of the wide range in regional retail prices, I’d also curious to hear what it costs in your neck of the woods.

Whatever you’re pouring for International Scotch Day, I hope it’s something you really enjoy! And if you didn’t realize today is International Scotch Day, I hope you will exercise your right to #DrinkCurious and give that ole’ bottle of scotch you have on your shelf another go!

Learn more about Jarrod’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…


About the Author
Jarrod Lapato

Jarrod Lapato

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Jarrod, also known as "Mr. Scotch", is relatively new to the world of whiskey. Born in Pittsburgh, PA, he graduated from Florida State University with a degree in Finance and is now living in St. Augustine, FL with his wife and cat. While his career so far has run the gamut from stockbroker to small business owner, Personal Trainer to Acquisitions Specialist for the county, he is currently enjoying a little time off to work on personal projects and explore new opportunities. He has been fine tuning his taste for Scotch Whisky over the past few years and has recently begun to expand his personal whiskey collection to include selections from other regions of the world, with a strong representation of the American made spirits... bourbon and rye whiskies. Hobbies include travel, photography, woodworking, home rehabbing... and working on that never ending whiskey wishlist.

Comments

  1. Here it is! The whisky that started it all for us! Ha ha ha! Terrific review, my friend! The signature humor of Mr. Scotch is present in just about every section and I also love your total honesty! These two ingredients make for such a genuine and enjoyable review! I do share your enthusiasm for this Scotch, as you well know, and also find that pretty much all Scotch lovers love this! I would say that it is so big and bold, that people who have not had much Scotch, or don’t like Scotch because the flavors are so overwhelming, would probably not like this. There is nothing small or meek about this whisky. Sadly, my taste buds are not as fine tuned as many other Scotch lovers, so I, myself, do not taste a huge difference between batches I have tried side by side. Aberlour works hard to make A’Bunadh stay consistent from batch to batch, but I know most of my A’Bunadh loving friends can tell the difference between the batches. I cannot and for that I am grateful. The cost has risen significantly since you and I first bonded over our initial bottles in October of 2014. I seem to recall the first bottle I bought being around $65 but really soon after that I saw it jump to $80, then $90! I was able to grab one at a store that hadn’t received a newer shipment yet, but these days you do not see it for much less than $90 anywhere around here in central Texas. You are so right about the cult of A’Bunadh! If you want to join our cult, be sure to use the hashtag #abunadhalwaysathome when you post your homage to this icon of sherry soaked cask strength goodness in a single malt! Great job, Jarrod!

    1. Jarrod

      My how time flies! It was this very whisky that made such an impression on me that I decided to create my twitter account, and Aberlour was the first account I followed. And through their account I found you, and we’ve been friends ever since! Thanks so much for your kind words and I’m so happy that you (and hopefully others) find my reviews to be both humorous and honest. One counterpoint to your comment… In my experience, I’ve found that many bourbon drinkers who claim not to like scotch are mostly put off by peat and/or the medicinal notes of iodine, brine, and “bandaids”… and that is why I thought this would actually be a great scotch for bourbon drinkers to try. Yes it’s big and bold, but its lack of the aforementioned ‘offending’ qualities, combined with the sweetness provided by the heavy sherry influence, may be enough to win them over. The barley vs corn comparison is a whole other hill to climb, but if I can get a few bourbon diehards to give this a try, I’ll consider it a success.

    1. Jarrod

      That’s fantastic Arthur! Glad you are enjoying your batch and thanks for your comment! $69?!?! Wow, I can’t blame you for picking up the last four bottles at THAT price… I’d have done the same thing! 🙂

  2. Living in Pittsburgh, and am new to Scotch. It is currently on sale at your friendly PLCB for $69.99. I may have to grab a bottle based on this.

    1. Jarrod

      Absolutely Seth, grab a bottle of that while it’s on sale and report back with your thoughts! That’s a really great price! I’m originally from Pittsburgh myself but moved to FL before drinking age, but I suppose that is one of the benefits of living in a liquor control state… no big markups on popular whiskies!! Hope you enjoy it as much as I do, Cheers!

  3. I work in a Wine & Spirits shop. This has been a go to for me for a long time. I also have Batch 54 here. Peanuts is always prevalent to me on this gem. Red fruits, absolutey. There is usually a good amount of difference batch to batch to me, but the underlying flavor is always spectacular. $84 on my shelf in southern Louisiana….

    1. Jarrod

      That’s quite an endorsement coming from someone working in the industry! And at those prices it would be a go-to for me as well!! Cheapest I’ve seen it around here is $99.99 but the norm is well over $100… and with my budget, that puts it out of range for a go-to and more of a special occasion bottle. But one thing is for sure, it’s delicious! Fortunately, I just had a twitter pal send me 2 samples for comparison. Batch 56 & 57. Looking forward to seeing if I’m able to pick up on the differences. Thanks for your comment, Jeff. Cheers!

  4. Aberlour A’Bunadh is one of my favorites, and I have Batches 50, 52, 56,& 58. All are fantastic, with very subtle differences (no way I could blind test the differences). And I’ve never paid more then $66 for a bottle. One of the best for the money.

    1. Jarrod

      That’s a great collection you have going! And good point, nothing like some blind tastings to humble the palate! At $66, I don’t know how you could better spend your money, that’s an amazing price… I need to come for a visit. 🙂

  5. Jarrod

    Wow Tom, you really have a great collection going! Thanks for chiming in, especially since you’ve had the opportunity to try out several batches. And you bring up an excellent point on tasting blind… it’s a whole different ballgame when you’re willing to put ego aside and taste whiskies blind. And where are you from Tom?? With $66 A’Bunadh, I may be looking to move a little closer! Cheers!

  6. The Aberlour NON CHILL FILTERED 12 year is excellent as well, it is much closer to a’bunadh than the chill filtered 12 year or even the 16 year in every way but Ive found it only in a certain “mom & pop” store for the same $69.99 as a’buadh however their price is OTD (taxes included)……I would encourage anyone who comes across a bottle to pick it up if you can.

  7. Anyone here tried the NON CHILL FILTERED 12 YO? IMHO it is second only in the Aberlour lineup to the A’Bunadh tho I haven’t had anything older that the 16 YO

    1. Jarrod

      I have not had the chance to try the non chill filtered 12yo but I have heard it’s pretty tasty! I don’t recall seeing it on the shelves locally, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for it. Thanks for sharing… Cheers!

  8. Simply exceptional. A tiny drop of fresh water in the glass really opens up the flavours too. Best whiskey I”ve ever tasted.

    1. Jarrod

      Thanks for the comment Caldeiras!… It really is a fantastic whisky. I guess Aberlour has caught wind of how much everyone likes it as they’ve just raised the price by 60% a few days ago!! Hope you were able to stock up prior to the increase. Cheers!

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