Bunnahabhain 20yo 1990/2011 “Isle of Islay” (52.8%, The Creative Whisky Company, The Exclusive Malts, Cask #251211, 298 bottles)

Here we go again. Another monstrously long title, again a Single Malt of which the distillery name is not on the label, but we know it’s a Bunnahabhain. So three in a row, this being the third Bastard Malt in a row, reviewed here on these pages. The Creative Whisky Co. Ltd. is non other than David Stirk. Fellow Rush lover and Whisky bottler par excellence, or should I say Exclusive Whisky bottler?

Bunnahabhain 20yo 1990/2011 "Isle of Islay" (52.8%, The Creative Whisky Company, The Exclusive Malts, Cask #251211, 298 bottles)This Bunna is pretty dark in color so my guess would be a Sherry cask. Since David didn’t specify what (kind of Sherry) the cask previously held, we can only speculate what this is. Maybe a Sherry Hogshead, or maybe a Butt that was shared with others, or only half the Butt was bottled? My guess would be the former (a Hoggie). It looks like a Oloroso or PX Sherry Hogshead to me, so we’ll have to try, to make another guess at it…

Color: Copper orange (the typical color of most Bourbons).

Nose: Fresh and Sherried but not heavy or cloying. Nice hints of spicy sweet and acidic wood. Definitely a lot of raisins and overall rather dry. Dusty with some fatty cardboard (nothing wrong with that). Ground coffee and hints of wet sugared cherries. Well balanced.

Taste: Heavy sherry with small hints of fat peat and a little bit of smoke and steam. Nice cloying black fruit. Tarry and a bit dirty. I like it. Yes it is a bit drying on the tongue, so maybe it should have been bottled a few years earlier. Still this is a great dram. It has a lot of character. Near the finish the wood starts to play a part with its spicy and slightly bitter finish and some black fruits come up. Dry black tea, so there are some tannins in here…

I brought this one with me when my Whisky club went to Switzerland two weeks ago and there the drying palate put some tasters off. I for sure noticed the drying qualities of this Whisky, but I didn’t have so much of a problem with it. Far worse for me is a heavily sherried malt, with lots of sulphur of bitterness in the finish, something this malt doesn’t have. By the way, for me this is a Oloroso Sherry Hogshead…

Points: 88

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