An evening with the Water of Life Society


An evening in the company of Edinburgh University’s Water of Life Society

For many months now we’ve been meaning to get ourselves along to an event hosted by Edinburgh University’s Water of Life Society (WOLS for short). However, we are remarkably busy chaps here at EWB Towers and have been unable to get along to check them out… until now! Thankfully last Thursday the planets were in the correct alignment and my diary was clear so I went along to their A’bunadh tasting. It sounds like the ultimate geeky whisky night – tasting batches 35-39 to figure out if there was any discernible difference between them. In truth it was pretty geeky, but that’s not to say a lot of fun wasn’t had!

The Water of Life Society was established in 1988 and has gone from strength to strength ever since. Fortnightly tastings regularly involve 100+ members sitting down to sample whisky and enjoy each others’ company in the magnificent Dining Room in Teviot House and alumni include our friend Dr Whisky. This particular event was a ‘small tasting’ where a smaller number assemble for a cosy, intimate tasting. Hosted in the lovely Balcony Room of Edinburgh University’s Teviot House, 28 enthusiastic whisky aficionados sat down to determine if there’s any difference at all between the last five releases of Aberlour A’bunadh. I’m not going to give tasting notes from any of these five whiskies (mainly because I didn’t write any down) but it’s safe to say many people agreed on several things and even more people disagreed about many more things. Who knew tasting five of essentially the same whisky could prove so controversial?!

Much banter was had and new friends were made. The committee were very welcoming and didn’t make me feel like a newbie at all, the same goes for the members in whose company I found myself. Afterwards I joined a few of the committee and some others for a relaxed nightcap at Dagda Bar, one of several bars in Edinburgh where they have a ‘society bottle’ from which a dram can be purchased at a very reasonable price. We discussed the evening’s events and, as we slipped ever more deeply into our drinking trousers, we appeared to come to some sort of conclusion; batch 39 was our collective favourite. Do you agree? Do you prefer older batches of A’bunadh? Do you think there’s any difference between any of them? Do you even like A’bunadh at all? Let us know. If you havent already tried this gem of a sherry monster, batch 39 can be purchased here for £37.95.

If you’re interested in going along to one of their tastings check out their website or their Facebook page to keep up to date with what’s happening. An evening of whisky and fun which comes highly recommended from Edinburgh Whisky Blog, what more do you want!



  1. 39 was definitely the best! Oddly, however, my second favorite was Batch 35, which just goes to show that it doesn’t seem to be something Aberlour is continuously “improving”. None of the batches were sub-par, in fact, just different — with 35 and 39 distinctly so, standing head and shoulders above 36-38. I’ll be interested to try Batch 40 whenever it emerges, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to accurately rate it without similar comparisons. Shall we meet back for another tasting in one year’s time?

  2. Relevant to the fact that we all loved Batch 39:

    Something to keep in mind at all tastings!

  3. I have to agree with you Susannah, 35 also scored very highly with me. I thought 36 was a little flat, 37 was a bit more lively and 38 was more spirity. Of course, these are all very very subtle differences and each dram was lovely – I was just staggered at how different (relatively speaking) they were from each other. Definitely looking forward to trying 40 when it’s released – it’s got big shoes to fill next to 39!


  4. My congratulations and admiration to the WOL Committee for getting the a’Bunadh tasting off the ground. Myself and Aberlour have, I always thought, gotten on rather well together and I would have loved to have taken a seat for this event.

    I don’t see the Quaich Society in St Andrews following suit with similar geekery – we only plucked up the courage to hold our own Committee-led tasting last month and didn’t push the boat out too far!

  5. @Scotch Cyclist, it was indeed a great geeky tasting. I’m sure a similarly geeky tasting could be organised by us motley crew here at EWB for the Quaich Society if you so wish?


  6. Hi Tiger,

    I believe a Mr L Dynowiak will be popping over before the month is out with a comprehensive selection of anCnoc but I will definitely be in touch about what you mean by a ‘geeky tasting’ for next (academic) year’s schedule. A chance for the Society to enjoy some fine drams without necessarily having to accommodate the harder-sell delivery is one they appreciate every so often.

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