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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

February 6, 2018


Another Bunnahabhain session

I’ve got many fond memories with Bunnahabhain, the best one being touring the warehouses in 2006, valinch in hand, opening several casks from the 1960s with their very engaging and much missed late manager John MacLellan. In truth, I don’t remember the whiskies, but I’ll always remember John. Let’s have a few Bunnies to his memory…

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1989/2017 (45.8%, Sansibar, bourbon, 233 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 28 yo 1989/2017 (45.8%, Sansibar, bourbon, 233 bottles) Five stars
Isn’t it refreshing to spot some Scottish clansmen back on some whisky labels, after having seen parrots, ducks, musicians, molluscs, cars, rockets, planes, chainsaws, girls, samurais, boats, dishes, atoms, motorcycles, guitars, insects, fish or jet fighters? Thank you Sansibar! Colour: pale gold. Nose: a blend of crushed chalk and limestone with apple compote and light honey, as well as soft porridge and brioche dough. A superb natural maltiness, and no oaky aromas that would get in your way. Not even the tinier nuts! A little mint and dill as well. It’s perfectly fresh. Mouth: lemon and apple juices, with wee touches of cinnamon and ginger. We’re almost in IPA territories here, Citra hops springing to my mind. A drop of seawater too, and touches of peppermint. Finish: medium, a notch more honeyed but the core remains lemony and mineral (or mineralic, as Angus would say). Rather salty aftertaste. Comments: a top notch old Bunnahabhain that leaves a wink for Highland Park, perhaps in remembrance of the times when both distilleries used to belong to Highland Distillers.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Bunnahabhain 1987/2017 ‘The Viceroy’s Elixir’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 579 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 1987/2017 ‘The Viceroy’s Elixir’ (46%, Wemyss Malts, butt, 579 bottles) Five stars
Some extravagant sherry to be expected, according to the colour. Colour: very dark amber. Nose: full oloroso mode, with litres of walnut wine, prune juice, and quite frankly, some old Armagnac. Huge notes of pipe tobacco as well, chocolate, black toffee, and the obligatory fruitcake. In the background, a few winey touches, cassis, drops of old balsamic vinegar, an a flinty touch. No sulphur whatsoever, having said that. Mouth: totally old-school sherry, with wheelbarrows of black raisins and a camphory/mentholy side over it. A notch more Moscately on the palate, but that’s all fine, this is no savage fast finishing (as seen elsewhere). Almost forgot to mention these dried dates and figs, the kind of combo that almost always comes with proper sherry. Finish: long, a tad drier and more flinty. Some tobacco while the walnuts are back. Comments: we’ve known Glendronachs… (some Glendronach on WF soon, BTW).
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Well, this is what I call a session that started well… Let’s move on with a younger sherry bomb…

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.5%, OB for 10th Anniversary Quaich Bar Singapore, oloroso, 332 bottles)

Bunnahabhain 12 yo (55.5%, OB for 10th Anniversary Quaich Bar Singapore, oloroso, 332 bottles) Five stars
Colour: full amber. Nose: indeed the sherry impact is lighter here, while we’re rather geared towards some kind of sweet tobacco, then lots of sultanas and orange rinds. What’s even greater is what’s happening in the background, with some kind of apricot syrup playing with some spearmint, puréed vanilla-ed chestnuts and quince jelly. Rather more complex than your average 12 yo. With water: perfect, fig rolls, cinnamon cake, honeydew. Mouth (neat): oh very good. This one’s earthier, with more bitter oranges as well, always these touches of spearmint, then some kinds of mentholy raisins and quite some heather honey. Another wink for HP? Just a wee touch of fresh oak in the background. With water: gets a tad firmer, earthier, and a little earthier as well. All is well in place, I can’t find the slightest flaw. Not that we need any, mind you… Finish: rather long, a tad more orange-y. Marmalade, cloves, ginger, chocolate, raisins, and a welcome pine-y earthiness in the background. Comments: another one that’s quite amazing. Hello, Singapore Airlines?... …
SGP:661 - 90 points.

Three 90s in a row. Well, this is Bunnahabhain… Now let’s be logical…

Bunnahabhain ‘Moine Oloroso’ (60.1%, OB, +/-2017)

Bunnahabhain ‘Moine Oloroso’ (60.1%, OB, +/-2017) Three stars
No age statement, some heavy peat, and probably some heavy sherry. Let’s be extra cautious… Colour: dark amber. Nose: bam! As if someone had put some medicinal alcohol, some strawberry jam, some lapsang souchong, some chocolate, some Maggi, and some shiitake in a blender. But who would do that? With water: dried porcinis and umami sauce all over the place. This baby’s pretty rough and tough!  Mouth (neat): feels a tad ‘tightly concocted’, as if a mixologist was in charge when composing this, instead of a master blender. Heavy strawberries, pomegranates and cherries, plus more lapsang souchong, treacle toffee, ashes, and… well, ashes. With water: add chestnut honey and oak extracts to some miso soup. You’ve made it. Finish: long, thick, a tad cloying I have to say. The fourth spoonful of heavy honey. Earth in the aftertaste. Comments: some extreme whisky that, in my humble opinion, would need twenty further years of quiet ageing. Other than that, it’s a fine – if extreme – drop, with a peat that got a little… scared?
SGP:664 - 80 points.

Quick, let’s find a lighter one…

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1989/2013 (53.6%, Whisky-Doris, sherry butt, cask #10805)

Bunnahabhain 23 yo 1989/2013 (53.6%, Whisky-Doris, sherry butt, cask #10805) Four stars
Yes I know I should have tackled this baby a long time ago. Colour: straw/gold. Nose: ultra-classic Bunnahabhain, more so than all the others, with some nutty cake, light honeys, mirabelle jam, and just two used matches, reminiscent of some kind of sherry wood. Nice costal earthiness. Beach sand? With water: gets more Islayesque, slightly muddy, a wee tad peaty, and quite lemony and coastal. It’s as if the sherry had been defeated. Mouth (neat): very nice, starting slightly tarry and even a little rubbery, then unfolding on marmalade and honeyed raisins, with a wee pinch of salt plus a touch of earth. And a few drops of lime. With water: really good, with some orange blossom water and notes of elderberries, as well as some greenish honey. Finish: medium and more coastal. Evocative of some Loch Gruinart oysters, ever tried those? Rather green walnuts on the aftertaste. Comments: water works very well on this one, it makes it tighter and brighter. And more coastal.
SGP:452 - 86 points.

See you soon, perhaps with more Bunnies…
(With thanks to Benjamin)

More tasting notesCheck the index of all Bunnahabhain I've tasted so far






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