A’bunadh, pronounced ah-boo-na, means from the origin. This particular expression is a cask-strength, non-chillfiltered yearly release (insert high-school crush sigh). Each year varies slightly, so if you’re talking about this one with a friend it’s important to ask which release you’re talking about. I’ve had a few different batches though, and the ones I’ve had were always inordinately delicious. This one has been out there for a couple years now, Batch #33.
A’bunadh is aged solely in Oloroso casks. Sherried whiskies can have a sulphury note to them, and sulphur is like the cilantro of whisky. If you don’t like it, you probably hate the ever-loving sh@# out of it. There’s so much cilantro hate in the world that people have banded together to make up an imaginary genetic predisposition to hating it. It’s not for everybody, and to balance things, there ARE examples of horrible sulphur notes in the whisky world just as much as you can get bad batches of the herb that actually do taste like soap, but I find the light burned matches in this one to be delightful. And to all the people shaking their fist at me right now for calling their genetic cilantro-angst pipe dream a hoax, I usually like cilantro, too. It’s delicious.
Nose: No age statement but almost all of the cloying pineapple sweetness from the 12 and 16 is gone. There’s still a tiny bit left but it’s buried beneath a much more balanced sweetness; like brown sugar and sweet, burned matchheads. Caramel and vanilla rush to the top notes. Leather and lightly roasted malt with dark, rich spices when you get down into the glass. Pine notes become obvious after a good breathing. Water opens up another world of sweet-end aromas on this one.
Palate: Extremely masculine. Dark brown sugar. Very heady sherry influence with lots of leathery notes and a delicious bitterness. Dank spices waft through the finish. It’s cask strength but still smooth once you get past the numbing first sip. The strength also gives a warm and fuzzy finish that lasts.
It’s as fun to drink as it is to say!