Having missed the Bunnahabhain boat for most of my whisky life I have found myself in preparation for this review not knowing too much about this Islay distillery. I have tried the 12 some time ago and remember very little. A barely smoky, salty malt. In fact, the most prominent factoid available in my mental arsenal is that Bunnahabhain distills not just one of the lowest ppm malts in the industry, but distills a low 1-2 ppm on Islay. If this is due to distilling tradition or rebellion I do not know, but I’d like to think it’s because they wish to do their own thing despite the peaty reputation of their famous island. I can respect that.
I should say that a second factoid comes to mind: enthusiasts of Bunnahabhain are fond of referring to the distilleries produce in hand as “Bunny” (pronounced boony). I declare here and now that if any of you catch me uttering that eye roll inducing phrase, please punch me in the face and leave me there on the sidewalk to bleed out. On to some details…
Current owner Burn Stewart gave Bunnahabhain 18 a recent face lift in removing caramel coloring, chill filtration and upping the ABV to a fun 46.3% ABV. Whisky freaks long for this type of treatment for their malts, so credit should be given. Today’s selection is aged for 18 Scottish autumns in both ex-bourbon and oloroso sherry casks. On to it…
Nose- Fruity and big. Nice toffee with some salty sea air hovering overhead. Doughy and yeasty, strangely. Sherry raisins.
Taste- Salt again with the toffee sweetness resembling a syrupy feel. Oak. Full mouthfeel. Very active and lovely.
Finish- Vanilla and sherry wine. Brandy like. Leathery and old oak. Medium length.
Comment- If this is the only Bunnahabhain I ever taste, that’s fine with me. Good old fashioned sherried Scotch with great balance and aged flavors. Recommended.
SWC Rating- 88/100