Bunnahabhain was founded in 1881 and the first spirit trickled from the stills two years later. The distillery was closed two times. The first time in 1930 (for seven years) and the second time in 1982 (for two years). In 2003 the distillery was bought by Burn Steward Distilleries, and they really started to market Bunnahabhain. First of all a series of new bottlings saw the light of day, and in 2010 they started to upgrade the core range with the 12yo and the 18yo. The ABV was raised to 46.3% ánd the new versions are unchillfiltered and no coloring is added. Way to go!
Bunnahabhain is known for being the least peated of the island, still like a lot of others, raising to the occasion by answering the call of the public for more ppm’s. Burn Steward therefore started to bottle a “Moine” expression, with more peat, mimicking pre sixties Bunnahabhain.
Color: Warm Orange, slightly hazy.
Nose: Rubber like bicycle tyres, but also a floral note. Very strange. Almost a strangely burnt Cognac? It smells like a grape distillate. Burnt sugar and toffee. Skins of hazelnuts. First whiffs were ehhhh, lets say, very atypical. I can only hope this will not be one of those harsh tasting rubbery fresh Sherry bombs. Luckily it does get a lot better when aired for a while. I would say, leave the cork off for a short while, a week or two maybe 🙂
Taste: Ash and toasted wood. Burnt sugar again, with its bitterness. This must be a somewhat mistreated or bad cask. And/or very poor Sherry. Sweet grains and caramel. Burnt sugar and rubber. Hint of soap. Thick and chewy. Simple and rather unbalanced. Dark chocolate with burnt bitterness. Quite woody in fact, something you could miss by the overwhelming Sherry influence. Was the cask really empty, when the Bunnahabhain spirit entered the cask?
Little if any distillery character. This could have been any spirit, from any distillery. No merits at all for Bunnahabhain, because this is a Sherry influenced grape thing. This is all fresh Sherry cask. And for me not even one of the nicest casks around. Is this nice? I don’t know. There shall be fans of this, but I’m not one of them. If you like Loch Dhu, then please give this a try.
Thanks go out to Nico for handing me this sample.