Tag Archive: Bunnahabhain


Douglas Laing: Provenance Single Cask: Bunnahabhain 10 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Single Cask Whisky: 10 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear, slightly greened brackish hue. Very light coloured.

Nose: Thick, salty, slightly viscous oily notes. Brown bread. Fish oils. Light broth. Wet rocks. Greenery. Water makes more salty, smoother, more rock notes.

Body: Honey. Rocks. Salt. Alcohol warmth. Gentle peat. Slight dry medicinal to strong alcohol character. Mature cheese, peppery. Butter fat. Water makes smoother, saltier, drier and less sweet. Vanilla and vanilla toffee. Slight lime.

Finish: Brown bread. Dry. Dry vodka. Gentle peat smoke. Water adds slight lime, vanilla and white chocolate.

Conclusion: Ok, Bunnahabhain is generally an unpeated whisky, I know that. This still tastes lightly smokey, ok? I cant lie on that one! It isn’t a meaty smoke character. But there is still some. Anyway, got that out of the way.

Neat it is a thick, kind of fish skin oils touched, slightly alcohol warm thing with big honey sweetness against a salty, rocky Islay character. The higher alcohol feel makes it a tad drying, which doesn’t quite match the sweeter character but it makes a simple, comparatively gentle Islay flavour set with a nice oily, thick mouthfeel.

Water does a lot of good, removing the harsher alcohol notes and the accompanying dryness, but it also strip out the more interesting flavours. The sweetness becomes more gentle and the odd oily, butter fats and peppery notes are lost.

Water makes it the easy drinking Islay, still showing a light peat smoke (I have no idea how), gentle sweetness and light salt. Easy to drink but most of the fun is lost. Id say the more interesting texture and flavour of the neat whisky makes it worth the slighter harsher notes that come with it. Give it some time to air, to get rid of some of the rough fumes, but drink neat – it makes for a reasonable attempt at a balance.

It isn’t a standout of the Islay world, but it really shows the non chill filtered style with a very nuanced mouthfeel that would otherwise have been lost. The slight mature cheese notes seem to be one of those extra elements and one I find fascinating. Apart from that it is generic light side of Islay flavour, good mouthfeel and some rough notes.

Not bad, not must have, but a decent take on the light end of Islay.

Background: Been digging these hip flask sized Single Cask bottlings for a while, a chance to get to know a whisky reasonably without dedicating the cash to a full bottle. Though I have had so many now I needed to ask for help from the lot at Independent Spirit so I could look up online which ones I have already done notes on. Bunnahabhain is an interesting one, a generally unpeated Islay. Not one I have had a huge range of experience with so this was chance to try and sort that. I’d been watching Kaizo Trap tons recently so put on some Leslie Wai music while drinking. Mainly Paradigm, the track from Kaizo Trap. This was distilled Oct 2007 and bottled Dec 2017.

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Bunnahabhain 25 Year

Bunnahabhain: 25 Year (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 25 Year: 43% ABV)

Visual: Rich custard gold.

Viscosity: Hard to tell in the glass, but slow progression.

Nose; Sweet honey and stewed apricot. Tiniest touch of smoke. Cured bacon. Custard touch. Very smooth.

Body: Very smooth and slightly light. Pears. Gentle smoke. Cod steaks and oils. Tannins.

Finish: Stewed pears. Cinnamon. Dry oak. Cod and oils. Light honey.

Conclusion: Bunnahabhain has always been on the light end of the Islay range, avoiding most of the peat and harsh character that comes from the better known names. Even so the lightness of touch of this one surprised me. It has a different range of notes that may hint at the Islay home, but it is far from harsh. maybe too far the other way. You get a touch of the island saltiness, but here more with an almost grilled fish character, and a dryness that calls more to tannins than peat.

The odd thing is that the nose is actually pretty big, not Islay style big, but still powerful. The first notes you get are thick stewed fruit, honeyed and with an almost bacon meat character which is the closest thing to standard Islay you will get all whisky. This was nice, exactly what I was looking for, different, big, and complex. The main body could do with more of that in my opinion.

When I got to the body, it was much softer – there is a very soft pear characteristic, which can get lost amongst the odder characteristics. There is smoothness, an almost cod light main body, smooth and just slightly oily. It gives an interesting main body, but it is so light that I didn’t even add water for fear of cracking it further. Maybe it is me, I know from aged expression I have tried they often get lighter and more subtle with age, but not usually to this degree. The finish leads out with that light fruit and a sweet cinnamon touch, regaining a touch of the honey promised by the aroma but so lost in the body.

It is an interesting expression, but not a very special one for that. It really needs more of the notes promised by the aroma as it has become too delicate for me – not something I imagined saying of the distillery. I would say, for this, keep to the younger expression. None are massive or harsh, but they have more weight to what they give. the years don’t seem to benefit this one much, especially not for the cost. Ah well.

Background: 200 Whisky Reviews! Yes, I know I’ve done over a thousand reviews total, but it is a lot slower getting through a bottle of whisky than a bottle of beer. Anyway, I decided to grab something special. The Rummer Hotel have some very nice whiskys by the measure, so I went for Bunnahabhain 25 Year. Unfortunately, it was nearly all gone. They had but half a measure left. The bartender very kindly said I could just have it as he couldn’t sell it. Many thanks. I am wondering, since it was near the end of the and I know current bottlings have a higher abv, if the whisky had been open for a while and oxidised a bit, which was why it was so lackluster. I do not know. Usually Rummer are great for their Whisky though so I’m guessing not. Anyway, since it was free I could get a second dram of a different whisky to celebrate. The review will be up shortly. As this was a very light whisky I didn’t add water as I couldn’t see it helping.

Bunnahabhain 12 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 12 Years: 40% ABV)

Visual: Darkened gold.

Viscosity: Lots of thick fast streaks.

Nose: Light smoke, rock and roast beer. Slight sulphur, turned earth and fruitcake.

Body: Very light front into custard and sea wetted stones. Sea breeze. Light cinnamon spice and sherry. Water makes lighter and more custard doughnuts and brings out rounded bready tones.

Finish: Light, fresh air and sea breeze. Malt loaf and malted drinks. Still a  touch of sulphur and yet becomes custard like again with water.

Conclusion:  We all know Islays reputation for massive force and peat.  So many may ask what the heck is this?  The understated Islay.  Still lightly salted and smoke, it brings in custard sweetness and fruitcake elements. Very light on the front it takes a bit for the flavour to develop, all in all happily defying the areas expectations.

Whilst I applaud the difference, the whisky does not quite make itself known for what it is, as some of the flavours are slightly indistinct.  You find the slight rockiness and the sweetness pulling against each other and losing some of their character in doing so.  It is as each part is put together well, but the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Not bad, but not inspired.

Background: If not for Kilchoman opening up, this would be the last Islay distillery I needed to tasting note. As it is the delicious journey continues.  Islay has a reputation as the island that has the most challenging of the Scottish whiskies, though that is mainly the result of the Adbeg, Lagavulin and Laphroaig distilleries who all turn out beasts. Unfortunately behind these the lighter Islays tend to be ignored.

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