A Tainted Bottle Of Aberlour A’bunadh?

by Oliver Klimek on September 26, 2012

Back in June I reviewed the latest Batch of the legendary Aberlour A’bunadh, it was No. 41. To say I was not impressed would be the understatement of the year. Especially with water added, the whisky became almost undrinkable, I had the impression of my nose getting stung by nasty fumes with every sip.

I gave a sample to my friend Keith Wood who also noted: “Something’s just not quite right here.” I have been a fan of the A’bunadh for years, it was always a safe bet for a high quality sherried malt. And now this. Could it really be that the distillery released such a nasty whisky without a feeling of shame? Keith’s judgment confirmed that my senses had not fooled me. The whisky in my bottle – bought in a famous whisky shop in Scotland – really was bad.

For months I have been watching out for other reviews of Batch 41. Until now I found none at all. Had I scared away all bloggers with my bad rating? I was burning to know if the entire batch really is that bad or if it is only my bottle that was affected by a mysterious whisky disease.

Finally I found another opinion. Nathan Keeney of Scotchnoob.com posted a review of it on 24 September. I know tastes are different, and two people describing the same whisky may use rather different descriptors in their tasting notes. But the way Nathan describes it and the fact that he gave it a “Must Have!” rating makes me wonder if my bottle indeed was tainted.

In a heroic effort I have worked my way almost to the dregs of the bottle. I was hoping for the whisky to become better with time by oxidaton, but it has stayed the same. I will keep a sample for reference, just in case I will get to taste Batch 41 from another bottle.

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Ross Dargan September 26, 2012 at 10:32 pm

I hope you do get to try one – I’m nearly at the end of mine, and I’m a bit worried about getting it replaced!

Hopefully the next batch is back to it’s normal excellent quality!

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Josh September 27, 2012 at 1:46 am

Most recent batch I’ve had is 39, which is very good. I recall hearing others not thrilled with the 41…Enough to make me steer clear, anyway.

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Philipp September 28, 2012 at 9:41 am

I happen to have a bottle from that batch that I was going to open soon. I’ve already sent you an email with details…

Cheers, Philipp

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Eric September 28, 2012 at 6:23 pm

Oliver, I have an un-opened bottled of batch 41 (which I bought because I also thoroughly enjoyed my previous bottle – batch 40). I’d be happy to send off a sample if you want to email me your specifics.

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Oliver Klimek September 28, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I have already been offeered a sample from a German reader, so you don’t need to send one from overseas. Thnka you anyway for the offer.

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chris dempster October 6, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hi there,

was forwarded this after posting my utter disappointment with a bottle of 41, I would confirm your judgement; terrible whisky

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kobold October 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm

hi oliver, i had to open my recently bought batch 41 after reading your and keith wood’s review here and on whiskymonitor – i had to know the truth. this is my first aberlour a’bunadh, so i can only compare it to the uigeadail and the lagavulin 16 which i both tasted/nosed earlier tonight. this was my first pour from the bottle and i added a fair amount of water to it and let it rest… to be short: nathan keeney described my experience pretty much perfectly. :-) i got my bottle from twe fwiw.

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Michael November 4, 2012 at 3:44 am

Hey guys!
I just bought a bottle myself, and it said it was batch 39…. Upon opening it however… It says batch 40. I was shocked!! How could this be? I asked myself. I call the the Scottish whiskey shop and they told me that they knew about it and that other stores had gotten that exact shipment. ( label on outside #39 – on inside #40) wiered. Any one else had this issue?

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Mike December 1, 2012 at 11:45 pm

So how did you like your batch 40?

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Michael December 2, 2012 at 10:56 pm

I must say… It was AMAZING!!!! Just like biting into a fresh Fig, had notes of dried fruit, raisin and toffee. I went and bought another just so I don’t have to worry about getting a batch #41. So just to be clear this was a batch #40 so I can’t say anything about the #41 but I will not be buying it after this thread anyway. I guess this Scotch will just be a memory of what it once was or at least until they fix the next generation of batches. Cheers!!

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Mike December 3, 2012 at 12:01 am

Thanks for the comments. I have a bottle of batch 40 that I haven’t sampled yet, but was worried after reading a few negative comments elsewhere. You definitely set my mind at ease. Glad you are enjoying it.

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Oliver Klimek November 4, 2012 at 9:04 pm

I finally got around to taste a sample of from a different bottle and compare it with my own. They taste the same. So it is the batch indeed that’s off and not the bottle!

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dan February 21, 2013 at 7:13 am

i have been a fan of the A’bunadh for a long time, it has been my go to cask strength for ages, and i have been having at least 3 dams a week for over a year. normally i am very happy but i recently had one at my favorit pub that was just flat out bad. it tasted like it had been mixed with a particularly bad burbon who’s name escapes me.. it is red something if i remember correctly… it was extremely sweet, and i do not want sweetness in a whisky that is suposed to be peated and harsh. now it could have been that it was accidentally served in a glass that was not cleaned by mistake but i know this pub and that is highly unlikely. i asked to see the bottle and guess which batch it was? Aberlour i love your product but if you ever put out an other batch like the 41 i will never drink your product again.

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Spencer March 5, 2013 at 11:33 am

Hi All,

Batch 41 is my third in the A’bunadh and unfortunately I didn’t keep any of the previous as a reference however I’m finding it very heavy toffee/caramel. Not unpleasant just dominated by a single flavour. What is is that made you guys dislike it so much ???

I have quite a few open bottles (all different malts) and like to drift from one to next chasing the changing flavours…. some how I always finish the Ardbeg 10 or Lagavulin 16 first every time. I’m fairly new to whiskey (2yrs) but loving the variety that bourbon never really gave.

Current menu
Scapa 16
Ardmore
Tobermory 15
Aberlour Abunadh (41)
Aberlour 10
Sheep Dip
Balvenie 14 Port Cask
Six Isles
Ardbeg 10
Smokehead
Big Peat
Bushmills 16
Gelnlivit 15
Dalwhinnie 15
Lagavulin 16
NZ Doublewood 10
Talisker 10

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Steve Rush March 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Aberlour Abunadh batch 41 I thought I was going insane,this is the most horrid whiskey
I have ever tried, it tastes like they tossed the stuff that comes off the still last back in, either that or they tossed the whiskey out and bottled the esters,Next time I am in Scotland I will be taking this bottle back and ask them to explain whats good about it,very peed off.

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Chad March 11, 2014 at 1:58 am

E-mail the distillery. They might send you a new bottle, and at least the more complaints they get they might recognize the seriousness of the problem.

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Chad Davis December 21, 2013 at 3:41 am

Hello Oliver,

I’m sorry you got a bad bottle. My bottle of Batch 41 was wonderful. Very very very much a must have.

you can read my review here: http://www.forpeatsake.com/Reviewer/ChadDavis

send me an email if you want to discuss this. I’d say, take the remainder back to the shop and talk about the problem. Then, get another bottle.

Warmly,
Chad

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Oliver Klimek December 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Thank you for your comment, Chad, but this was over a year ago. The bottle is long gone. It was bought in Edinburgh and I live in Munich which made returning it impossible.

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