Tag Archives: highlands

Aberlour A’Bunadh Review

Distiller: Aberlour. Region: Highlands. ABV: 60.7% (varies slightly by batch). Price: $65-80.

Looking for your go-to sherry bomb? Look no further.

Aberlour A’bunadh (pronounced ah-boon-AR, means “origin”) is a powerhouse cask-strength dram at a fair price. There’s batch-to-batch variation, naturally, so Google a bit to make sure you’re getting a good one. And there are plenty of good ones.

This one, the Batch 47, was a masterpiece.

It has a big nose of stewed prunes, French Roast coffee beans, molasses, and spice, especially allspice and clove. All these carry through to the palate, revolving around a rich, malty core. There are more stewed sherry fruits–apple, peach, and fig. Somehow it still maintains balance–and starting at a huge 60.7% ABV, it will take as much water as you’ll give it. Long spicy finish.

Love the Glenfarclas 105? Dreaming of the long-gone Macallan Cask Strength? Then the A’Bunadh is a can’t-miss.

Cheers, friends! – BO

Balblair 1990 Review

Distiller: Balblair. Region: Highlands. ABV: 46%. Age: 25 years. Price: $125.

Balblair’s 1990 vintage is a quarter-century of bourbon-matured, sherry-finished goodness in a modest square lozenge of a bottle–inspired by Clach Biorach, a 4,000-year-old Pictish stone in the town of Edderton, where Balblair is based.

The 1990 is aged roughly 23 years in ex-bourbon barrels, then spends its final two years in ex-sherry butts. The result takes the same rich and spicy Highland profile I’ve enjoyed in the ’03 and ’99 vintages a step further.

The 1990 starts with a nose of stewed figs and black cherry. Rich and substantial. The sherry influence is distinct, but on the drier side, with dark toasted tobacco.

Palate: rum-soaked Christmas fruitcake. Nutmeg and allspice. Fresh pencil. (Yep.) The finish is very long, with dark chocolate, red peppercorns, and burnt pie crust.

If you’re a bourbon fan, think of this as the Rhetoric 21 of sherried single malts. If you’re not a bourbon fan, rest assured that’s a very good thing.

A top-notch release from a distillery that deserves more attention. Cheers, friends! – BO

Buy Balblair whisky online at Mash + Grape

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.

anCnoc 24 Review

Distiller: Knockdhu. ABV: 46%. Age: 24 years. Region: Highlands. Price: $140-160.

Rounding out our recent series of anCnoc single malt reviews, here’s the heavy hitter of the unpeated line: the 24-year-old.

Bottled at a healthy 46% ABV, this is a rare value buy among older single malts. (Any idea what a 24-year-old Macallan would set you back–if they made it?) Interestingly, this bottling is a combination of ex-bourbon cask and sherry-seasoned cask maturation. As a result, it has loads of flavor, but more nuance than you’d likely get from all-sherry maturation.

I think anCnoc hit this one just right. The nose is a huge ripe berry basket, sweet and luscious and just wild enough. The palate is rich and dense, with wild strawberries, raspberry jam, vanilla custard, and a lovely full mouthfeel. The finish is wonderfully long. Along with the fruit come the brambles and branches now. At the end, fragrant black fruit teas and the bottom of a barrel of cherry wine. Very satisfying.

The 24 fulfills the promise that began with anCnoc’s very good 12-year-old, and leaves me feeling all warm and fuzzy about this Highland distillery. Just two questions: 1) Can anCnoc’s peated releases be as good as their unpeated? Can’t wait to find out. 2) Is 24 years too old to be a daily sipper?

I won’t tell if you won’t.

Cheers, friends! – BO

A company representative graciously provided a sample for review. As always, our opinions are 100% our own.