Aberlour A' Bunadh Alba Review

“On the Road To Find Out”

Whisky Review # 881
Country: Scotland
Region: Speyside
Brand: Aberlour A'Bunadh Alba
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky - Batch 01
Age: NAS
Alcohol By Volume (ABV): 57,1% (Cask Strength)
Maturation: First-Fill Ex-Bourbon Casks
Chill Filtration: No
Sample provided by Mauricio from Brazil. Many Thanks!
Price Range: US$ 70-90 (June 2020)
Price/Quality Ratio: 😐Borderline okay at US$ 70. It's a Young Whisky after all!
Buying Advice: 😐Interesting experience. I will wait for a mature Alba though!

Colour: Chardonnay (Natural Colour)


Young and Sweet. Loads of Vanilla from the First-Fill casks. Lots of Fruit reminding of New Make Spirit. Some Floral and Dairy aspects as well. The Alcohol is quite present but that's no surprise given the high ABV. A little bit of Varnish and Acetone in the background.

Main Aromas:

Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Buttered Bread, Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Yogurt with Tropical Fruit Flavors, Apple, Pear, Grass, Floral Soap, Fresh Wood and Wood-Shavings, Raisins, Caffe Latte, Cinnamon, Pepper and Nutmeg.
Supportive Aroma Accents:

Caramel, Toffee, Heather-Honey, Yeast, Dusty Earth, Forrest Floor, Bounty Candy Bar, Nougat, Ginger, Mint, Varnish and Acetone.


Young, Nervous, mainly Sweet and slightly Hot. You would never recognize this as an Aberlour in a Blind Tasting. One of the Young NAS Glenlivet Malts came to mind. The Alcohol is really strong, almost in an uncomfortable way. This needs a bit of Water.

Main Flavours:

Barley Sugar, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Apple-Strudel, Yogurt with Tropical Fruit Flavors (Mango, Pineapple, Papaya), Citrus Peel (Orange, Mandarin, Lemon), Red Berries, Coconut, Grass, Oak, Pepper, Ginger, Caffe Latte and Tobacco.

Supportive Flavour Accents:

Buttered Bread, Toffee, Caramel, Butter Biscuits, Nougat, Dusty Earth, Cinnamon, Mint, Nutmeg, Acetone and Tin cans.


Middle-Long and Bitter-Sweet. Medium-Dry. The Alcohol is ever present and a bit on the Hot side. It's all a bit off-balance and under-matured. I find Sweet Barley, Nuts and Nutshells, Brown Sugar, Toffee, Caramel, Vanilla, Heather-Honey, Buttered Bread, Grass, Dusty Earth, Floral Soap, Stewed Apples and Pears, Citrus Peel, Caffe Latte, Oak, Pepper, Cinnamon, Ginger, Menthol, Milk Chocolate and Tobacco.

Drinking Advice:

I added a bit of Water and that helps calm down the Alcohol. I get Breakfast Cereals with Assorted (Tropical) Fruits and Nuts on the Nose. Quite a lot of Barley and Vanilla as well. Palate and Finish benefit as well but to a lesser extend. The Alcohol remains very strong. You can add more Water of course but that kills this Aberlour. But a few carefully added drops really help in this case.

Rating: 83.5

Nose: 21 - Taste: 21  - Finish: 20.5  - Overall: 21

Drinking Experience Neat: Good but the ABV is simply too high.


The Aberlour distillery was founded in1879 by James Fleming and is located in the little village of the same name in Banffshire, Speyside. Since 2001 it is owned by Chivas Brothers (Pernod Ricard). The capacity of Aberlour is around 3,8 million litres per year. The core range includes the 12,16 and 18 Years as well as the A'Bunadh and the Casg Annamh.

The Alba is both named after Scotland & the type of White Oak used for maturation. (Quercus Alba). A'Bunadh means The Original by the way. This is of course not the first time that Aberlour experiences with Ex-Bourbon casks but this seems to be the first serious attempt to try and avoid the ever more serious lack of authentic and very expensive Ex-Sherry casks. You can season any Wood with Sherry or Sherry By-Product of course but that's certainly not the same thing. It's only natural that Aberlour is looking more serious to Ex-Bourbon casks. And I would urge them to continue to do so as it seems an interesting path to follow. My only argument would be to extend the maturation time as this Alba smells and tastes way too Young. A high ABV can't hide this I'm afraid. If Aberlour succeeds in producing well-matured Ex-Bourbon cask Single Malt Whisky I predict that would be a huge success. I would not be surprised if Macallan would be one of the few, if not the only one, who would use Ex-Sherry casks on a large scale in 10 years or so. Unless Sherry becomes very popular again of course. Let's wait and see!


Jan van den Ende                                                                          June 29, 2020

All pictures were taken during our visit in May 2014

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