Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 55

Scotch Whisky Review #176: A “Fragile” Mystery Part 2

Much like the mystery review from yesterday, no information was provided about this whisky, just a bottle with a fragile sticker on it. Not a whole lot to say so let’s just jump on in!

Color: 1.6, Mahogany/Henna Notes. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.

Nose: (according to the wife) It’s super peppery and really spicy. It’s like shoving your nose into a bag of chili powder (she specifically said 고춧가루 or Korea chili powder). There’s a bit of caramel that sneaks in behind the spiciness. Some dark red boozy fruit comes along as well, almost like the fruits you use for sangria. There’s a bit of clove as well.

Palate: It’s a lot sweeter than I expected but it is still pretty spicy. The sweetness is a bit gritty and makes me think of sugarcane and rum. Then there is the heat. It starts off with just a tinge of heat but quickly explodes into a tongue numbing sensation, it actually reminded me a lot of Szechuan food and that gradual mouth numbing sensation that comes from Szechuan peppercorns. With a bit of water, it stays sweet with a bit of bitterness coming out. There’s some burn sugar and caramel joining the sugarcane notes. The spice level drops but it still pretty mouth numbing. With a lot more water, the rum like notes take full control. There’s a bit of marzipan, overripe banana, and a bit of aged oak. The spice is gone but that also might be because my tongue is just completely numb by this point.

Finish: Fairly short. The rum/sugarcane notes are here for a bit before it evaporates.

Guess: Something young aged in ex-rum casks. There isn’t a whole lot of options for ex-rum whisky and this doesn’t taste like anything made in Islay, the Islands, or Campbeltown so I’m going to have to guess its from a Speyside distillery. Young, ex-rum, Speyside…maybe it’s the Glenfiddich Fire & Cane?

Reveal: Aberlour A’Bunadh Batch 55

Distillery: Aberlour

Region: Speyside

Cask Type: Oloroso Sherry

ABV: 60.9%! Cask Strength

Age: NAS

Conclusion: I drink a lot of sherried whisky and man, this one surprised me when I pulled back the fragile sticker. I was absolutely certain that it was matured in ex-rum casks! I’m still not sure where any of the sherry is in this but the 60.9% ABV really explains all of the tongue numbing spice. The sugar notes are really nice throughout the whisky and actually played very well with the level of spice. That little bit of overripe banana and marzipan helped balance things out a little bit as well. Pretty good overall, though you definitely want to dilute this down a bit while you drink it. Would I buy a bottle? I’ve been on the hunt for a Batch 64 actually having heard so many good things about it.

Final Score: 81.

Scotch Whisky Review #176, Speyside Whisky Review #72, Whisky Network Review #242

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky.
  • 85-89: Amazing, will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection (if feasible).
  • 80-84: Very Good, maybe only one minor nitpick about the whisky keeping it here.
  • 75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink.
  • 70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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