Sunday, November 27, 2011

Whisky review: Aberlour A'bunadh Batch 35

I saw this whisky, which usually retailed for about $60 in Boston, for $45 at Total Wine in the Phoenix area. Not being one to let a hopeful deal pass me by, I picked up a bottle, also thinking it would make a good introductory sherried whisky for some novice friends of mine.

This particular whisky is matured solely in casks that used to hold oloroso sherry, and it's bottled at cask strength with no chill-filtering.

Compare this review to my previous review of the A'bunadh Batch 29.

Aberlour A'bunadh Batch No. 35, 60.3% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Speyside)

Nose: Wood, spices, sugary cake frosting, and citrus fruits (lemon?). Like Batch 29, it singes your nose hairs the first time you sniff it. And the second.

Palate: On the first sip, it tastes like some unaged malt spirit I have (bright fruits, but not in an especially good way). There's a bit of sherry late, but it's completely overridden by that new-make flavor up front. On the second sip, the sherry spice and fruitiness is more apparent.

Finish: Alcohol with a hint of sherry.

Rating (of 100): 74. It might be because it's such a high alcohol content, or it could be very young (or both), but this hardly struck me as a heavily-sherried whisky. I think the Batch 29 was much more sherry-rich.

Adding water definitely helps it, though. I added about 1:3 water to whisky and it brought out more mature fruits in the nose and subdued the new-make character on the palate, preserving a rich fruitiness. My rating for the whisky as-is stands, but I would probably rate it in the mid-80s with water.


After rating this and then reading some other folks' reviews of it, most of us seem to agree that it needs water. Other people are still finding a lot more character to the whisky without water than I am, though. Eh well...I guess that's what makes tasting fun!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Whisky review: Battlehill Bowmore 8 Year

I picked this bottle up at the local Total Wine and More after hearing phenomenal things about it through the grapevine. It's an independent bottling done for Total Wine by a company under the name of "Battlehill," which appears to actually be Duncan Taylor. I'm normally not a big fan of Bowmore's whiskies, but at $38 a bottle, the recommendations for this one were too strong to let it pass me by.

Bowmore is a distillery on Islay, the Scottish island known for producing smoky, peaty whiskies. Bowmore is also one of the most heavily-collected brands of whisky in the world, as they have produced some very exclusive bottlings and have a strong following. Like I said, though, their product has never really hit me as being exceptional.

Battlehill Bowmore 8 Year, 43% ABV
Single malt Scotch whisky (Islay)

Nose: Grassy, medicinal, and a little sweet. Reminds me of the Laphroaig 15 Year.

Palate: Follows the nose with grass, then turns to heavier coal and peat. A hint of that Bowmore "Fisherman's Friend" character that Jim Murray often mentions, but not nearly as much as in some of the distillery bottlings I've had.

Finish: Full-bodied peat and smoke with some lingering sweetness. A good warming effect.

Rating (of 100): 90. This comes through with a nice amount of peat and doesn't overdo it on the sweetness - it's like a mix between the Laphroaig 15 nose and the Laphroaig 10 palate. (Sorry, I'm a Laphroaig fan...) For the price, it's an outstanding bottling, and a damn good one regardless of price. Maybe I need to pay more attention to this distillery, or at least to this bottler.