Dramatic and legendary the distillery of Aberlour can be found amid the Highland scenery of Ben Rinnes. It’s here that this lovely village sits, incorporating the soft, pure spring water from the nearby natural springs into its revered and intensely unique Aberlour whisky.
Behind the iconic red doors to the distillery, one of the most sublime specimens of whisky can be found in Aberlour A’bunadh. It stems from a deeply rich history which is what lends it the unique qualities that make it such a treasure. In the 19thcentury. Scotch whisky was simply bottled up straight from the cask. There was no dilution then, just pure cask strength.
But in 1915, once WWI began, the British government issued a restriction on the ABV for Scotch whisky at 37%. It was raised to 40% in 1917 which has remained the general strength of whisky since then. Enter Aberlour A’bunadh, a most unusual Scotch whisky that has no age statement though assigns batch numbers on every bottle.
These limited-run batches made their debut in 1997. Some range from one while other batches have five per year. The whisky in these batches is a blend from the barrels that can age anywhere from 5 to 25 years, all bottled at cask strength. This is what renders Aberlour A’bunadh so unique, for the batches tend to carry anywhere from 59% to 61% ABV, sometimes slightly more. As is the case with batch No. 58, it ranks in at 61.1% ABV. We had the pleasure of tasting this purely special batch which you can view in the video below.
Aberlour crafts some of the best whisky around in 12-year-old, 16-year-old, and 18-year-old versions, all double cask. Though Aberlour A’bunadh is on another echelon at full cask strength. It matures exclusively in Oloroso Sherry butts, something that so few Scotch whiskies do. While it varies from batch to batch, the quality is remarkable and quite consistent, revealing a complex and exquisite experience for whisky lovers.
A’bunadhis said to mean ‘the original’ in Gaelic, and knowing a bit of history helps here, for it pays homage to James Fleming, the founder of Aberlour. It also is an apt recreation of Aberlour whisky from the style of the 19thcentury before the ABV restrictions imposed during wartime.
With a beautiful auburn gold color, it beckons in your glass. What can you expect when you taste it? You’ll unearth a robust and intense experience, one that tingles the nose with heavenly aromas of mixed spices, spiced orange, and praline all mingling with precision among the richness of Oloroso Sherry. Indulge in that sip and discover a splendid treat of black cherries, orange, and dried fruits with ginger giving way to bitter dark chocolate and more of that Sherry and oak. It feels creamy and full-bodied, finishing out on those bittersweet exotic spice notes, oak, and dark chocolate.
Aberlour A’bunadh batch No. 58 is certainly a prize for your whisky collection, one that will make for a perfect end to your evening, or perhaps even a perfect beginning.