Because each batch truly is different: Aberlour a’Bunadh (Batch 39)

I had intended to have my reviews all wrapped up for the next few months because the LCBO claimed they still had a couple packs of the “Classic Malts Gentle Collection” (Oban 14, Glenkinchie 12, Dalwhinnie 15)  but alas, their website lies. Instead, having run out of my a’Bunadh 36, I’ve decided to review my newly acquired Batch 39.

Perhaps the big question is, “For batches so close together, are they any different?” This review attempts to add some (subjective) evidence towards answering this question.

Color: Worth noting that this one is much darker than batch 36.

Some Quick Undiluted notes: The absence of heat on the nose is immediately striking. It is only 0.3% ABV lower than batch 36, but it’s gentler on the nose. It is also notably sweeter. The palate is thick and almost sticky, like a mouth full caramel. It coats your mouth and stays there for an extended period of time, long after the alcohol has evaporated. Sherry all over the place, yes, and in that sense it’s mostly one-dimensional in that sense (with hints of other notes that will be augmented by water) but damn if it isn’t fantastic. Other cask-strengths will burn like hellfire without water, but this one just hits you. Much like the ’97 Glenfarclas Family Cask. In that way, they are quite similar.

On to the water… (not much though… I like this one too much the way it is)

Nose:  Cookies. Caramel, loads of sherry (of course), cinnamon, nutmeg, and maraschino cherries. Raisins. Apricots, grapes, and white pepper. Hints of smoke, but not the dark smoke that you get from batch 36. It’s also brighter Christmas-y flavour than batch 36.

Palate: Slightly less chewy, but still thick. Sherry, dark chocolate, maraschino cherries and caramel. Brandy. Ever so slightly smoky. A basket of fresh fruit, much as advertised by the nose.

Finish: Long, comfortably warming, and progressively drying. Musty sherry, hints 0f fresh tobacco and a light smokiness.

Grade: B+

Well, to my palate, the batches are clearly different. Still, this is another excellent a’Bunadh. It’s noticeably sweeter, with a larger basket of fruit than batch 36, but it still has all the great dark chocolate, cinnamon and sherry-bomb oomph you’d expect from an a’Bunadh. It was initially hard to pick a favourite, but the sweeter, gentler nose that’s just so spectacular, leads batch 39 ahead by a nose. (Haha…haha… oh that was terrible). It reminds me a lot of the Glenfarclas 15yo, but with a palate to back up what the nose promises. A bit more mature than the ‘farclas 105, too.

As the cold grows nearer, the a’Bunadh would be an excellent (unpeated) addition to anyone’s winter cabinet. With this, and my Uigeadail, the winter ahead looks plenty warm in these parts.

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