Category Archives: Bunnahabhain

Exclusive Malts – Bunnahabhain – 1991 21yr (52.6%)

Exclusive Malts Bunnahabhain 1991 21yrBunnahabhain is a strange distillery to begin with. It’s one of the only two on Islay that doesn’t heavily peat their single malt. Single casks are usually atypical for the respective distillery, as well, so this is an atypical, atypical Islay.

Smelling it at first, I couldn’t find much in the way of traditional Bunnahabhain aroma. It’s cleaner, breadier and lighter overall. The Bunnahabhain really came out after I got to taste it, though.

Bunnahabhain just transitioned from a chill-filtered dram to a non-filtered one, so the flavor profile of the standard bottlings went with it in a heavier direction. This particular bottling is a bolder malt, but fruitier, more buttery and lighter than the current standard bottlings, like an unfiltered, cask-strength version of the old stuff, but with, you know… flavor.

Nose: Punchy. Irish soda bread. Hay and Coca Cola over musky wood. Honey over a handful of sour mash. Nori-wrapped apple slices with maraschino cherries, black licorice and light cloves. Rich and malty like the breeze passing through a brewery that’s also baking ultra-buttery croissants in back.

Palate: If the nose threw you off, the palate confirms this is indeed a Bunnahabhain. The dark grime of the official 12 is here but wearing a nice, licorice jacket so it seems much more refined. Steely for moments. Dilute pine sap, dark roasted apples and a bright, zingy mouthfeel that sticks around in the finish. Wine-y vapors trail it all with very, very mild peat on the tongue. I thought I tasted some cocoa powder as I was washing the glass after.

Rating: RecommendedBlack licorice and fruit make this typically grimy Islay stand out. Another well-chosen cask from the giants over at The Creative Whisky Company. Cheers!

Thank you Katia and Impex Beverages for the sample.

Bunnahabhain – 12 yr (46.3%)

Bunnahabhain 12 yearBoonahavin’, or as some call it, the Bunny, recently changed to a nonchillfiltered release a couple of years ago. You may find the filtered stuff on a few dusty shelves if you look carefully, so collectors should keep their eyes peeled.

The original was much lighter and reaked of fresh air but not much else. The new stuff is heavier, danker and much closer to what real single malt should be like. Their decision to change the spirit is indicative of an industry wide awareness that greater numbers of whisky drinkers are moving away from the “smooth” paradigm and acclimating to real flavor. They also stopped using the caramel coloring E150, caramel in this case being the Scottish version of the US painting American cheese orange with annatto. If you ask me, changing the color of our food is just one of many the idiotic ways we appease lunacy in the world.

painting the cheese annatto

We planted the white cheeses by mistake.

Of all the Islays, this is one of the two least peaty brands you’ll find, Bruichladdich being slightly mellower and completely unpeated. The Bunny still has a lot of oceanic influence that may make it seem peaty, but it’s mostly sea smell.

Nosing the briny depths in this one makes me want to go fishing and then slow smoke those fish in my backyard. Or buy a yacht and sail somewhere cold. It kind of makes me want to paint my cheese orange, too, but only because I’m so contrarian I can’t even agree with myself.

Nose: A bizarre juxtaposition of grimy and fruity. Musky. Sweet, buttery lobsters walk in every now and then, realize they’re at the wrong bar and leave. The cashews and rich malt resume conversation; a few of the loudest are minerally, then dusty but shut up when they realize other tables can hear them. As with most grimy whiskies, stick to a Glencairn glass and let the oak be gentle and sweetly rounded. Smokey, not peaty, with hits of vanilla and iodine.

Palate: The dank, leathery half of the nose is the first you’ll taste. Most of the sweetness is relegated to the finish where the vapors rise like a fruity, caramel phoenix. The finish eventually grows into an oaky spice with coriander and black pepper. Cedar and smoke. Numbing. Seaweed and saltwater. After a little while the fruit is gone and only the fiery, masculine side remains.

Rating: Recommended