Who’s ready for a spring and summer stuffed with adventure? Aberlour is, and the latest release from the single malt brand is a fair weather whisky to prove it; the A’bunadh Alba. It’s a lighter style of spirit; although that’s immediately clear from the colour of the wax. Topping the bottle, it’s a slightly sprightlier shade of Aberlour’s usual deep, dark red — a warm orange which calls to mind mild evenings and the glorious golden hour. And it celebrates a golden moment for the brand; as this is perhaps the distillery’s most delectable, adventurous whisky yet.
On the nose, it’s like a warm afternoon — spent wandering and exploring an orchard. It’s plucky, and packed with sweet notes of fresh green apples and juicy pears. There’s warming wafts of lavender honey and smooth vanilla cream in there, and even a zing of zesty lemon if you go in closer for a second sniff.
But it’s on the palate where this whisky’s seriously adventurous credentials become clear. That citrus burst continues, with tangy grapefruit crashing a piquant, welcome wave on the first sip. Beneath that, those earlier apples take on a baked quality, and sweet shortbread and sugared almonds round out the campfire-ready flavour.
It’s an ideal whisky for sharing, or taking on your sun-drenched trips and travels this year. And, like all good whiskies, there’s one hell of a story backing up the bottle. ‘Alba’ refers to ‘Quercus Alba’ — the type of American White Oak that made the barrels in which Aberlour’s latest A’bunadh was matured. And, as its delicate name suggests, this wood is as light as the spirit itself; but also renowned for its durability and ability to oxygenate whisky to a smooth, flavourful age.
Coincidently, ‘Alba’ is also the Scots Gaelic name for Scotland — another fitting piece of heritage in the jigsaw of this new launch. Because A’bunadh Alba has been handcrafted in the Speyside village of Aberlour, where the fabled distillery has been innovating and pushing boundaries since its intoxicating inception in 1879.
But, whilst Aberlour remains steeped in spirited history, this latest pioneering launch pushes the brand’s boundaries. Those American White Oak barrels previously held bourbon whiskey — and this marriage of malts ensures a scotch like no other, adding complexity and character to every surprising sip.
It’s a small-batch sensation; and the perfect whisky to uncork al fresco this year with friends old and new. But beware; though it may be light on the eyes and easy on the palate, it comes in at cask strength (ABV 62.7%), so it packs a punch. But, thanks to those rich, aromatic notes and that distinctive creamy texture, it still delivers a smooth and sweet finish — with a subtle hint of toasted almonds and intensely satisfying aftertaste.
Overall, the A’bunadh Alba feels like something completely fresh. Aberlour will forever treasure its Scottish heritage, but this American-influenced innovation throws a hint of forward-thinking, casual-drinking, laid-back whiskymaking into the mix. It’s a bottle to open with friends, to take travelling this year; and one to share alongside a story. Simply put, it’s a whisky made for adventure — and we’ll always raise a glass to that.
Aberlour A'Bunadh Alba