Bunnahabhain 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.
Thank you Katia and Impex Beverages for the sample.