A whisky with all the traits of an Islay minus the trademark ingredient – peat!! The Bunnahabhain is the deviation distillery, founded in 1881 off the northeast corner of Islay, nested close to the Margadale River.
This particular expression, the 12 YO has been around for over 41 years, launched first in 1979. The bottle comes in a dark, mysterious hue, adding to the enigma of what might be housed beneath. The whisky is made from limestone filtered spring water, using malted barley that isn’t peated with the distillate double matured in a combination of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks for a minimum of 12 years. And what’s better is it is completely void of any artificial colouring and chill filtration.
ABV : 46.3%
Eye : Deep Copper | Non Chill Filtered, Natural Colour
Nose : Vanilla and burnt butter with a hint of hay prancing around the nose. Rum soaked raisins, ripe raspberries, lush dark chocolate with the richness of dried dates are complimented by charred wood, a sliver of honeydew and a savoury, leather like note. Quite spicy though quite subtle interrupting the rich sweetness are bits of cloves, cinnamon sticks and white pepper.
Taste : Vanilla beans coupled with a lovely fusion of raisins, honey and butter cream. Hot chocolate, mulberries and dried fruits are accompanied by red wine and other sherried influences; quite herbal, mildly briney with a woody feel towards the end.
Finish : Medium | Brown sugar, cocoa and raisins with a spicy finish.
This 12 YO whisky isn’t your typical Islay, a stretched arm and limb from your average Laphroaig or Ardbeg. But is a great example of what else Islay can offer; mildly dry, silky and light bodied and yet caressingly sweet, sherried and rich in dried fruits, with little to minuscule peat. The Bunnahabhain is a well layered whisky that is smooth, complex and delightful on the palate with a larger than life nose. Too sweet perhaps for the regular peat addict but a keeper for the sherry lovers. This expression finds itself on the top tier for a 12 YO whisky and hence comes with a high price tag, but is well worth the try at AUD $90.
Preference – Neat or with a few drops of water to liven up those sherried notes.
PS: Special thx to my good friend Rajesh for the dram!