Save the last dram…

A few years ago for my 40th birthday, I received a very special gift – a bottle of Aberlour a’bunadh. Tonight, I will enjoy the last dram as I write this review.

The Aberlour distillery is located in Aberlour, Banffshire, Scotland in the heart of the Speyside region. Situated at the junction of the rivers Spey and Lour, Aberlour is the Gaelic word meaning “mouth of the chattering burn (stream).”

A’bunadh (pronounced a-boon-arh) is Gaelic for “the origin” and is a toast to James Fleming who founded the distillery. This whisky is matured in Spanish oak Olorosso butts and is bottled at cask strength. It should also be noted that this whisky is bottled without the chill-filtering methods used by most modern distillers. The bottle I received was from batch number 26 and measured 60.6% ABV.

The bottle does not carry an age statement, but each batch is blended from barrels ranging from 5 to 25 years old. Batch 26 was released in 2009. In addition to the a’bunadh expression, Aberlour also releases a 10, 12, 16, and 18 year old expressions.

Now for the particulars.

Appearance: One immediately notices a deep, amber color typical of whisky aged in sherry casks.

Aroma: Nosing the glass reveals intense, slightly smoky aromas that include fruity hints of maple syrup, and fine sherry.

Taste and Finish: The flavors are intense and reveal hints of sweet fruits, maple syrup, with slight hints of caramel. The finish is warm and long and envelops the entire mouth – hitting on nearly all taste-buds. 

Adding a drop or two of water turns the color slightly cloudy, but releases the full fruity aroma of this whisky. The added water also releases a softer touch on the palette and mellows the finish considerably. I would highly recommend taking the first sip neat, but then adding a small amount of water to suit your tastes. The added water makes this whisky considerably more enjoyable.

Note that each batch will produce a unique flavor and the character of each batch may vary widely from one batch to the next. If you’ve had this or any of the other batches of a’bunadh, let me know your thoughts below.

8 replies »

  1. So, rather than come over to join the rest of us, you were busy hoarding your last dram of the a’bunadh. Good choice! Any thoughts on a replacement bottle?


  2. Nice notes on the a’bunadh. I just bought batch 31 which is v nice. Sadly, my bottle of #23 is gone. I wish I had the two to taste side by side.




    • The a’bunadh is definitely a very solid whisky (and a relative bargain when you consider that it’s bottled at cask strength). I’ve had it on several occasions (at The ROK’s house and at the SMSWA Extravaganzas) but never took note of the batch number. Does it vary that much from year to year?


      • A quick check at Wikipedia indicates that each cask has a slightly different alcohol content and that the taste of the individual batches can vary significantly. Some casks were noted for a caramel note, a dark chocolate note or a rum raisin note. Also, as of June 2008, it is almost impossible to find a batch prior to #20. This year, batch #35 was released.


  3. I absolutely love the a’bunadh expression – I first tried it when the Single Malt Scotch & Whisky Extravaganza stopped in DC last fall.

    Great review! Guess you’ll have to go buy another bottle.


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