Monday, 16 June 2014

Some very different Bunnahabhains

For some reason, Bunna hasn’t had quite the love from me that it deserves.  Here’s some extremely varied drams that all display the common distillery DNA.

Lady of the Glen Bunnahabhain, 26 years old, 50.01% A⊕

16th November 1987, single cask, NCF, refill bourbon.

Nose - Sweet, fizzing lemon, crayon and plastic book coverings.  Lemon boiled sweets, really intensely sweet on the nose, with a backing of cherries and floral, ripe mango.  Balanced wood spice, kiln dried hardwood.  Fabulous, intense, blockbuster nose.

Body - Rich, toasted sweet wood, mouth wateringly juicy, some spice, and tannic fruit, some good wax coming through on the delivery.

Finish - Long, a little spicy, immense sweetness.  The midrange drops out halfway through the finish leaving cloying sweetness and wood bitterness to battle it out.

What’s not good about it - A bit low on complexity near the end of the delivery, the finish doesn’t hold its own quite, a touch unbalanced and lacks elegance overall.

What’s good about it - Massive intensity, loads of ripe, juicy fruit and citrus, delicious wood and fruit integration on the nose and palate, and up front at least, some beautiful mid range with toasty malts and rich woods.

Bunnahabhain 25 (OB), 46.3% A⊕+

bunnahabhain25yearoldboxlowresNose - You can see from the colour that this is a sherry dominated whisky, and hence completely different from the LotG 26 year old.  Classicly warm, fudgy, dusty raisins and good vanilla ice cream.  Black forest cherry, a little ribena, a hint of sandalwood, perfectly balanced wood and sulphur, and a little fruit and nut bar.  Restrained in its sweetness compared to the bourbon cask above, but still opulent.

Body - Balanced and considered, with some savoury warm spices in the mix; cumin, turmeric.  Deep, very warm sweetness with brown sugar and slow cooked meatiness.  

Finish - Quite long, a smooth delivery into a balanced, sulphured finish.  You’re left with a numbing drying sensation of sulphur which works very well.  An expertly put together old single malt, extremely satisfying.

What’s not good about it - Restrained?  Very sherried.

What’s good about it - Expertly picked casks providing total balance, poise and interest throughout the delivery.  Lovely sulphur balance, richness and an elegant use of huge sherry notes.  Very moreish.

Bunnahabhain Vintage 1997, 15 year old (Signatory), Peated, 46% A+

bunsig1997v17Nose - Rich, medium but aging peat, bandages and toast with pears.  Then some apples, 1970s TCP, and a little bit of travel sweets.  Like a massive Laphroaig but with the volume turned down to about 6.  Has that ferocious brightness but not the intensity.

Body - Lovely sweet ash, caramel, lots of sweetness before the drying peat - a little more Ardbegian.  Some sourness at the side of the tongue.  

Finish - Medium, balanced, more ashes, numbing, the lemon sour notes come through now, against the bitterness, making the dying notes a little less fun than they could be.  

What’s not good about it - Neither intense nor opulent, hence a little bit stuck in the middle so I’m not sure when I’d turn to it (mind you, you should see the choice here).

What’s good about it - Wonderful peat judgement throughout, balanced and toasted but with the medicinal brightness I love.  Great nose in particular, and good ash during the delivery.

Thanks to Matt for the sample!

Bunnahabhain, 10 years old, Signatory Cask Strength Collection, Cask 5287, Heavily peated, 54.5% A+

bunnasvNose - Light, sweet, some cider sour, very bright lemon citrus, sherbet lemon boiled sweets, oak planks and black pepper.  A faint backing of ashes and burnt newspaper.  Backing this, on some extensive investigation, is some dark, soft toffee.  The youthful fire and bright lemons are nicely integrated and as a fresh, interesting, young whisky this is rather good.

Body - Massive slap in the face of ashen peat, some intense, dark toffee sweetness, very bright lemon and pears, then some spice and wood.  Rather lovely hints of furniture polish and a little burnt toast.

Finish - Quite long, good heavy peat integration, nice development actually. This grows on you.

What’s not good about it - The initial brightness seems one dimensional at first.  The initial palate is a touch austere.

What’s good about it - The peat hides behind the bright citrus at first but develops gently on the nose, great nosing whisky after the initial disappointment. Lovely integration of lemon sweets, wood and peat.  Quite delicious.

Thanks to Nick for the sample!

Bunnahabhain, 18 years old, Feis Ile 2010, Heavily peated, PX Finish, 51.4%, A⊕

bunnfi2010Nose - Bright and waxy, immediate ripe tropical fruits, apple juice, and scrumpy.  Candle wax and crayons, deep and rich lemon toffee, dark boiled sweets and a touch of cashew and raisins.  Carefully intense, ripe and delicious.  Really well implemented sherry on the nose, a total blockbuster.

Body - PX, immediately, followed by a gradual development of peat then back into sherry.  Numbing peat and salt, chilli and a touch of hazelnut.

Finish - Long sherry finish, some menthol cigarette, ending with numbing peat and more tobacco.

What’s not good about it - The delivery is a little one dimensional unfortunately.  Given the balance and beautiful nose, it’s a shame there’s not a little more complexity in the delivery.

What’s good about it - Wonderfully intense, fruit bomb, waxy nose, with fabulous PX integration.  The sherry isn’t overdone, and the base spirit is wonderful.  A delicious whisky that just pulls its punches a little in the delivery.

Thanks to Nick for the sample again.  

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