One more Bunnahabhain review in the mini series, this time it’s a youngster, only 16 years distilled in 1999 and bottled by Cadenead in 2016. However, this is isn’t your run of the mill Bunna bottling as it was aged in two different casks over its lifespan. Originally matured in ex-bourbon casks and then finished in a sherry hogshead for almost 3 years.
Let’s check who won here, the bourbon cask or the sherry cask:
Cadenheads Bunnahabhain 16 Year Old (49.7%, €99.99)
Nose: Feels mature for its age, gentle sherry impact with sour-sweet dried fruit, a strong vanilla and cream notes, fresh fruit sweetness with classic dried fruit and berries lurking behind. There’s a constant back and forth game between the vanilla and the sherry fruitiness here. Believe me it’s not getting boring. Continue reading
Following the very good and tasty duo from yesterday, here’s another old and well matured Bunnahabhain and it will be a sandwich vintage to the due (from 1988) but since it was the last to be bottled, it carries the 28 year old sign on the label.
It was bottled by Speciality Drinks Ltd (sister company to The Whisky Exchange), 344 bottles were produced from cask 100229 and I have high hopes from it.
Bunnahabhain 1988 28 Year Old (The Single Malts of Scotland) (46.8%, £150/€209,00)
Nose: Heavy and oily nose (definitely more than the duo from yesterday), strong honey note at first with cream and then the fruit joins the party with pears, apples and a few apricots and but the real surprise (for me) is the strong waxiness that popped up here along with a wee salt note that balance the the sweet fruit. After a few minutes there’s gentle spiciness with white pepper and oak spices along with vanilla pudding and soft cereals. With a few drops of water the waxiness is almost gone but the nose gets ultra creamy, A very delicate and beautiful nose. Continue reading
It’s time for some Bunnahabhain love. Our local whisky club had a Bunnahabhain evening last week and there are a few more bottlings waiting for a review so I think it’s time for a mini series of Bunnahabhain reviews to start the week, it bounds to be spirit lifting!
First up – review of a duo of 26 Year Old bottlings!
The first one is a recent bottling from last November, done by WhiskyBroker.co.uk. It’s cask 7730, one of three casks filled with spirit distilled on 22nd December 1989 and bottled on 18th November 2016.
Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 26 Year Old WhB (48.1%, £97)
Nose: Starts with a classic Bunnahabhain bourbon cask profile. There’s honey, and sweet fruit notes that slowly develops into a huge tropical fruit attack and I don’t mind getting attacked like that! Pineapple, ripe banana and passionfruit (passiflora). There’s a dash of peppermint and vanilla pudding. After a while there’s also a slight old bookshop feeling and dark sweet honey. Continue reading
I was thinking of reviewing the Bunnahabhain 18 for a long time but I never got to it for various reasons. It’s a Bunnahabhain day at Feis 2016 today and since John MacLellan who was Bunnhabhain distillery manager for a long time passed away this year and the 18 yo was his favorite child, I think it’s about time to go ahead.
Nose: rich and velvety, caramel and toffee. A lot of sherry notes: soaked raisins, nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon, dried sour berries, dark chocolate. But it’s also carries some saltiness and some leather-ness (yeah, not a real word but you get the meaning, right?) after a while. Continue reading
Amid all the rising whisky prices and the growing NAS segment, we’ve seen another trend going strong lately: independent bottlings of young whisky, from 5 year old up to 10 year old.
It shouldn’t surprise us as whisky casks prices has risen too, for both new make and aged spirit barrels. The reasoning is simple: bottle it at younger age, maybe even bottle at lower ABV and so it’s cheaper and you can extract more bottles from each cask.
Today’s Bunnahabhaim from Van Wees The Ultimate brand is a classic example of such whisky, distilled 26/06/2006, aged in cask 2127, bottled 4/6/2015 at the tender age of 8 year old (although it was 22 days far from being 9 year old) yielding 815 bottles due to 46% bottling strength.
Bunnahabhain 2006 8 Year Old The Ultimate (46%, €39.20)
Nose: It’s young alright with lots of malt notes, sweet malt, bread, cereals and barley sugar. There’s even some roughness but hey, here comes the sherry impact with mellow and sweet dried fruit, some plums, raisins, very subtle comparing to the strong maltiness and is noticeable just enough to balance it out. Continue reading
Earlier this month, Gordon and Macphail, the Elgin based independent bottlers launched a campaign named ‘The wood makes the whisky’. The campaign focuses on the cask’s contribution to whisky flavor. It’s worth repeating here what I wrote numerous times in the past, that the whisky industry estimates cask’s impact on whisky flavor at 55-80% of the final result, making it the single largest factor (Yeah, I know my math 😉 )
The campaign launches with a a dedicated book and few selected whiskies to demonstrate and showcase G&M experience in matching spirit and cask. The book, written by Neil Ridley & Joel Harrison of World’s Best Spirits, is excellent reading and covers all the aspects of wood and casks relevance to whisky production: from the basics on different oak types (American vs European) and the expected flavors derived from those kinds of oak, cask sizes, previous liquid impact and how is it being managed in the warehouse (although I wish that part would be longer!).
The second part of the book concentrates on matching the distillery character (spirit profile) with the correct casks and the implications of such matches – maturation period, what is supposed to happen during that time, how the distillery character and casks counterbalance one each other until the desired flavor is reached and the whisky is bottled.
Along with the book I received a few samples of some of the selected whiskies for the campaign and today I’ll start with the younger one: 8 year old peated Bunnahabhain in a refill sherry casks.
The book tell us that Bunnahabhain distillery character is neither delicate nor heavy. The refill sherry casks means moderate sherry impact of spices, dried fruit. Let’s check it out then.
Macphail’s Collection Bunnahabhain 8 Year Old (43%, £28.80,€34.90)
Nose: Smoky, salty and fruity. One time cereals and then abundant of cured meat and fruit sweetness. There’s a great balance between the peat smoke and the sherry cask influence. The peat note is well rounded and is kept in check even over time when many young peated drams nose get overtaken by peat smoke. Getting fruitier over time: green melon and dried pears. Continue reading
Feis ile 2015 is in it’s twilight and we’re left with 2 more distilleries. Today is Bunnahabhain day and we’re reviewing their Feis Ile 2014 bottle: Dràm an Stiùreadair.
Dràm an Stiùreadair (pronounced ‘Draam an Yoù-radar’) is a salute to the seamen. It’s a peated Bunnahabhain, matured in Bourbon casks for 9 years, it then a final year in a Marsala wine cask.
Bunnahabhain Dràm An Stiùreadair (Feis Ile 2014) (56.7%, £160)
Nose: Starts with a wine impact but then the peat comes up. Peanuts snacks (Bamba snack for the locals here in Israel). The peat that rose stays on the front with an underground layer of sweet honey and vanilla. After a few minutes in the glass the peat recedes and there are notes of sultanas and grapes. Continue reading