A'bunadh and Macallan CS are basically the same profile. You may find yourself wanting one more than the other, but they're good substitutes for each other.
Glenfarclas 105 is a totally different beast. The other two are lovely dessert drams, while this one is more of a nightcap--lots of complexity, a little smokey cocoa maybe?
Anyway, they're all great. Buy ((A'bunadh or Macallan CS) and Glenfarclas 105).
I've only tried batches 15 & 16 but I thought they were among the most interesting bottles I've tried. Notes from the 15 are lost forever. But from my batch 16 notes, the flavor was a really nice blend of sherry, chocolate, nuts, orange, honey, etc.. All things I like. The finish was long enough and satisfying.
The Macallan CS had an extremely interesting mouthfeel, it kind of felt like maple candy where it feels stiff for a brief moment and then melts into a nice syrup. In terms of flavor I only remember being able to detect sherry and brown sugar. Of course this is from memory of a bottle from about a year ago (which was also my first CS whisky) so maybe I wouldn't have the same reaction today.
In any case, the Mac gets some extra points for mouthfeel, but Aberlour wins on flavor.
A few years ago I would have ranked them thus:
However, the Glenfarclas 105 has really improved tremendously in recent times, and I reckon it might now just have the edge over the a'bunadh.
Macallan CS is a bit out of balance at the moment. The sweetness and sherry are not well integrated with the malt, creating a somewhat artificial-tasting sherry bomb.
I have a current Aberlour a'bundh #16
and had the several bottles of Macallan cs prior to the change to the new bottles (about 2 years ago).
I would have to rate the Glenfarclas 105 at the top for me.
The the Macallan (granted it is not the most current release)
And then the Aberlour a'bundh
but that is just my opinion
-105 has the appeal of being one of the first CS standard distillery bottlings.
-Macallan CS has the advantage of being dirty cheap at Duty free in UK (£30) for a litre.
-Abunadh has added feature of various batches. This also can be aproblem, as mentioned above. It also has the coolest packaging/bottle.
Great question... battle of the proprietary heavily sherried cask strengthers!
The Macallan CS "feels" younger and hasn't developed the richness of even a Macallan 10, but it is still a Macallan and very nice.
Glenfarclas 105 is pretty awful. Harsh and spirity on one side and bitter-swett black treacle on the other. Unbalanced and really not drinkable. So it comes about tenth out of three
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