As many of you know, I live in the Great White Land-of-Provincial-Liquor-Regulation, and our prices for whisky suck. See, the government had this whole prohibition idea, and then when it ended, they decided they still needed to babysit us and ensure we didn’t drink too much. Thus was born the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, which today has morphed into a retailing giant that spends a ton of money on advertising to increase demand for alcoholic beverages, while maintaining a pricing strategy rooted in deterring demand for alcoholic beverages…also, they’re terrible at both. Why do I rant about this in a whisky review? because today I’m reviewing one of the few bottles that is actually priced reasonably in this province! Aberlour A’bunadh is a sherry-bomb-lovers-wet-dream, and I have the great fortune of reviewing 3 batches side by side today. I bought a bottle a long time ago, and happened to end up with batch 46. A huge thanks to /u/boyd86 for batch 53, which i swapped for back in November 2016, and to /u/slackerdude for the swap of batch#6 that I swapped for in March 2016. No, that wasn’t a typo, the slacker came across it randomly on a shelf one day and it was an obvious insta-buy. Apparently someone must have had it on a shelf, saw how it had appreciated in price since it was launched back in 1999. crazy. anyway, on to the cask strength three-way! I’m going to review each element side by side, rather than going one dram at a time. I’ll also lay it out in table format rather than bullet points for easy comparison across batches.
|Aberlour A’bunadh||Batch #6||Batch #46||Batch #53|
|Appearance||deep reddish orange with fat sexy legs||similar to #6 but slightly less red.||lighter still, but still a pink-orange hue. The legs on this one are incredible.|
|Nose||rich fruity nose, lots of berries, cherries, demerara sugar, caramel, red licorice, spices||quite different than batch 6. much less fruit but somehow more sugary and a lot more oak influence. raspberry, caramel, vanilla, molasses. Less spicy than 6||sweeter yet than the other two, and a bit more cloying. Not as much spice either.|
|Palate||a lot more woodiness than I expected to get. Quite dry, almost tannic, tart, nutty, with a ton of dark dried fruit. Raisins, figs, caramel, molasses. Delicious. A dry sherry bomb. strawberry, chocolate on those strawberries. More oak tannins, dry nutty goodness. wow||much sweeter than batch 6. way more sugary fruit, berries, chocolate, tons of spice like cinnamon and nutmeg. Tastes much more youthful too and runs quite a bit hotter than the older batch.||very different once again. Doesn’t run nearly as hot as batch 46. has more of the nuttiness I expect from oloroso sherry, and it’s super dry once again… dries out the mouth like a nice dry wine. Earthy, chocolate, light spiciness, red fruit, caramel, toffee, molasses.|
|Finish||long, dry, fruity and not overly sweet.||medium, hot, spicy, sweet, and slightly bitter||longer than 46. dry, nutty, fruity.|
|Overall||This strikes a fantastic balance of some sweetness with a dry tannic character. Tons of flavour and each element shines through without over-powering the others.||this batch isn’t nearly as balanced as #6, and the cloying sweetness overpowers much of the other notes and it runs so hot I feel it needs water, unlike the other two. I previously rated this an 89, but that will be going down now that I’ve compared to its brethren.||batch 53 thankfully is better than 46 and gets back to the more balanced approach of batch 6. it has some sweetness, along wth a good punch of wood and dry tannic character. I’m having a hard time choosing which I like better, 6 or 53.|
in the end, I’m choosing batch 6 as my favourite. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, and tend to love dry sherried malts, particularly a well done oloroso cask. This one just balances it all beautifully. The 46 is just way too sweet for me to score it as high as I did the first time… maybe my tastes have changed or something. The 53 is delicious and dry, but runs slightly hotter and isn’t quite as balanced as 6. Overall, such an awesome experience seeing the variations between batches. I WANT MORE!