Pro tip: When a distillery puts “Alba” in the name of a product, you can presume you’re getting into an ex-bourbon barrel-aged whiskey. American oak’s scientific name is quercus alba, and “alba” just sounds nice.
Aberlour is the latest to go wild for Alba, having released a U.S.-exclusive version of its popular, full-proof A’bunadh single malt: A’bunadh Alba. The twist, as you have likely figured out by now: Instead of being heavily sherried — standard operating procedure for more of Aberlour’s releases — A’bunadh Alba is matured exclusively in bourbon oak. It’s the first line extension for A’bunadh in the distillery’s history.
As with standard A’bunadh bottlings, A’bunadh Alba is bottled with no age statement and at cask strength.
It’s a wildly different spirit than “original” A’bunadh, which is overwhelming with sherry, spice, and fruit. In Alba, the wood takes center stage, boldly announcing itself alongside notes of black pepper, fresh crackers, and a layer of pure, cereal-heavy malt. The palate is lively but quite bready, with a touch of lemon to counterbalance the otherwise biscuit-heavy experience. Buttery notes dominate the finish, along with a touch of spice and some sandalwood, which nods at a sultry incense character. Heavy with alcoholic punch, it easily benefits from a splash of water.
All told A’bunadh Alba doesn’t come across as remarkably different from many other bourbon-barreled Speyside whiskies, relatively restrained with the focus squarely on the grain. As most fans turn to Aberlour specifically for its sherry-heavy punch, the switch may be asking for a lot from their palates.
114.2 proof as tasted.