Archive for the ‘Bunnahabhain’ Category

North Star Spirits Bunnahabhain 1990 (26 year old) 51.1%

Bourbon Hogshead/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2016/ Tasted: Nov 2016

Deep and malty with plenty of mature baked fruit, subtle dusty, coffee’d spice and an almost refill sherry herbal character. Vibrant and citric with late notes of hyacinth and honeysuckle. Superbly balanced.

The palate wonderfully soft, opening with the toffee coated mature baked fruit and hints of sawdusty oak, vanilla and gentle spices along with a touch of almond skin, peanut and dark honey. Fabulously complex with a touch of fragrant herbs and light smoke. Stunning, spicy finish with lingering herbs, vanilla, baked fruit and a little coffee’d wood tannins.

North Star Spirits Bunnahabhain 1986 (30 year old) 52.5%

Bourbon Hogshead/ Dist: Nov 1986 Btl: May 2017/ Tasted: Jun 2017

Beautifully tropical (apricot, banana, kiwi, green grape) in that mature way and exuberantly honeyed. Hints of citrus and rock salt balance the sweetness and although the oak is quite subtle, it does become buttery with time. Aromatic and musky with barley husks, Demerara sugar, treacle and cinnamon.

Wow! Now that’s a palate and a halt. Opens with molten honey, barley and buttery oak, followed by gentle tropical fruit, salt and citrus. The oak displays a lovely, mature sawdusty character and it really fills out on the middle. Wonderfully salty and citric finish with lingering lemon, apricot, kiwi and honey. A little drying at the death but the honey hangs on in there and offsets.


Claxton’s The Single Cask Bunnahabhain 2002 (14 year old) 51.6%

Bourbon Hogshead 1607-3185/ Dist: Oct 2002 Btl: Oct 2016?/ Tasted: Nov 2016

A lovely aromatic, classic, summery Bunnah nose of sweet barley, hyacinth and a touch of peach skin. Really fruity with an Arran esque sub-tropical character and hints of straw, sea air, malt and coffee.

The palate opens with the crisp, salty white fruit, apricot, barley, vanilla oak and a touch of spice, heather and gentle smoke. Intensely citric on the middle but the sweetness of the barley and oak balance. Long and lightly coffee’d and subtly creamy with lingering barley and floral notes.

Wemyss Vintage Malts Single Cask Release ‘Kirsch Gateau’ 1991 (23 year old) 56%

Dist: 1991 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: Oct 2015

Nose: Huge first fill Oloroso aromas with green olives, raisins, fig, green nuts and oxidised fruit. With time it becomes quite herbal and treacly with a subtle fragrant smokiness.

Palate: A palate thumping, all encompassing sherry monster. Treacle mingles with hints of dark chocolate, coffee, light smoke, salt and gritty tannins.

Finish: Mouth-watering due to the alcohol and herbal with lingering sweet treacle and crystallised citrus.

Conclusion: One sniff and it confirms that there is going to be zero distillery character here. However it is completely blemish free.

Wemeyss Single Cask ‘East Neuk Dunes’ 1990 (25 year old) 46%

Dist: 1990 Btl: 2016/ Tasted: Oct 2016

Nose: Extremely young, manurey and a little feinty with a touch of sweet barley, subtly phenolic peat and malt biscuits.

Palate: Less intense on the peat front as there is more oak and barley. Still youthful and lightly feinty on the middle with the oak becoming quite milky.

Finish: Short and alcoholic, which is a surprise given its abv. Intense and salty with a juicy orange after-taste.

Conclusion: The oak hasn’t fully removed the unwanted impurities, but left any longer the oak would have probably overwhelmed the palate. As this was tasted blind I’m amazed that it is 25!

Wemyss Vintage Malts Single Cask ‘Oysters with Lemon Pearls’ 1988 (26 year old) 46%

Dist: 1988 Btl: 2014/ Tasted: Mar 2015

Nose: Lightly oiled and perfumed with hints of orange Muscat, citrus, pineapple, honeydew melon and barley. A light sawdusty oak note appears with time. Beautifully exotic and complex.

Palate: A beautifully soft and succulent palate of juicy barley, apricot, pineapple and melon with an enticing sliver of citrus and stony notes. Lovely dusty oak with hints of violets comes through on the middle.

Finish: Long and juicy with the oak beginning to dry but the fruit counters. Lightly coffee’d and mineral after-taste.


Edition Spirits Bunnahabhain 1989 (25 year old) 49.4%

Refill Bourbon Hogshead/ Code: EDI0115/ Dist: 1989 Btl: Sept 2015/ Tasted: Oct 2015

A gorgeously juicy nose of lime conserve, apricot, guava and melon. Generously tropical with some deft honey, barley and dusty oak, but wow! That fruit! Gently spied and with time some castor sugar coated green apple and toasty oak notes appear.

The palate opens with the barley and mature honey. There’s a touch more oak so it’s not quite as exuberantly fruity as the nose suggests, but it creeps through on the middle with a gentle sub-tropical character. There’s plenty of brine and citrus –adding freshness and it definitely doesn’t feel its age. Stunning finish of green apple, lime and gooseberry with the luscious honey keeping it just the right side of tart. Slightly dusty oak and earthy after-taste.

Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask Bunnahabhain 1989 (27 year old) 43%

Bourbon Hogshead 5750/ Dist: Oct 1989 Btl: Jan 2017/ Tasted: Jan 2017

A gorgeously voluptuous and fruity nose, with mature apricot, white fruit, melon, pear, banana, honey and lightly mentholated herbs. Exuberant and juicy with a light coastal note and subtle, buttery oak.

The palate is wonderfully mature with slightly oxidised tropical fruit – melon, apricot and pear with honey and a light smokiness. Grippy vanilla oak, straw and coffee come through on the middle and the finish is long and salty with lingering tropical fruit, citrus and more salt. Absolutely stunning.

Carn Mor Black Gold Series Bunnahabhain 1995 (20 year old) 51.1%

Sherry Hogshead 2536/ Dist: Jan 1995 Btl: May 2015/ Tasted: May 2015

The colour is as black as the Ace of Spades! Gently spiced, thick, pure and unctuous Oloroso aromas are sliced through with a sliver of citrus. Hints of toffee, baked apple, liquorice, green nuts and taught herbal aromas appear. With time it becomes quite treacly and an almost PX-like dried grape note appears along with a touch of black coffee.

The palate is awash with succulent Oloroso – dried grape, plum, liquorice, treacle and herbs. Expansive and lightly tannic with malt and dark chocolate notes coming through on the middle along with a touch of smoke. Lovely palate cleansing citrus note releases a touch of vanilla before the dark chocolate, raisin and treacle returns. Long and uber clean with a dry, coffee’d tannin and lingering wood smoke finish.

James MacArthur Old Masters Bunnahabhain 1980 (33 year old) 45%

Bourbon Cask 84/ Dist: 1980 Btl: 2013/ Tasted: Dec 2013

A very herbal nose with a distinct marmite character. Malty and oily with a touch of thyme, camphor, earth, tangerine, burnt caramel and mature honey. Very woody however and it smells like a very old and a little tired whisky.

The palate is soft, opening with some burnt toffee and caramel. Again quite woody with hints of earth, cinnamon, coffee and coffee’d spices. Good malty finish but the oak has had it’s way with it and bitters the finish somewhat.

Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Bunnahabhain 1997 (16 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2336/ Dist: Aug 1997 Btl: Oct 2013/ Tasted: Nov 2013

A very sweet and dusty nose with vanilla and hints of oxidised fruit and burnt toffee.

The palate is quite sweet and vanilla’d with straw-like barley, apricot and summer fruit. A little more expressive than the nose. Lightly dusty and quite drying on the middle. Good length with hints of (musty) dunnage, loam and citrus on the finish.

Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Bunnahabhain 1991 (21 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2265/ Dist: Nov 1991 Btl: June 2013/ Tasted: July 2013

Dark and malty aromas of lightly stewed fruit and no shortage of mature, sawdusty oak. Very fragrant with a little dark treacle and layers of lightly oxidised orange fruit. A little light smoke adds to the complexity along with a touch of dry spice. Lovely depth.

Full and rich on the palate, opening with some lightly meaty dried fruit and a touch of cinnamon. Like the nose there is plenty of toasty, mature oak along with a touch of light treacle, brine and wood tannins. A lazy smoke note meanders its way through as the malty/ treacly notes build. Very long with the cinnamon and nutmeg notes lingering.

Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask Bunnahabhain 1989 (26 year old) 50%

Bourbon/ Code: OMC2538/ Dist: Oct 1989 Btl: Nov 2015/ Tasted: Dec 2015

The nose opens with some dusty, sweet barley, sweet violets, brine and subtle vanilla oak. Lightly herbal with hints of malt and baked fruit. Beautifully vibrant and fragrant with late hints of earth and peat.

The palate is pleasantly mature with dusty oak and shimmering barley notes. Hints of honey, malt and light peat follow. Subtly coastal on the middle with a fresh, crisp, slightly herbal finish with the oak adding some lovely chocolaty notes.


Hunter Laing Hepburns Choice Bunnahabhain 2007 (8 year old) 46%

Bourbon/ Code: HEP0137/ Dist: Mar 2007 Btl: Sept 2015/ Tasted: Oct 2015

Crisp, fresh and faintly briny aromas of white fruit, barley, citrus, earth and gentle peat. With time a little herbal spirit note appears.

Crisp, fresh and simple on the palate with hints of herbal spirit and barley. Quite a citric and alcoholic finish. Lacking any wood character (which is not a surprise given its lack of colour!). Lightly salted after-taste.

Berry Brothers Own Selection Bunnahabhain 1990 (20 year old) 53.1%

Refill Sherry Butt 18/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2011/ Tasted: Aug 2012

A full on and alcoholic nose of very clean Oloroso sherry – burnt wood, bitter chocolate, sugar coated orange and a touch of salinity. Very herbal with thyme, camphor and bog myrtle notes. I was quite surprised at how alcoholic the nose was given the abv. 

The palate is much like the nose – large gobs of Olorosos wood and malt. Hints of burnt wood, liquorice, dark chocolate and piquant alcohol. The middle and finish displays quite a large degree of coastal character but the alcohol masks the finish to a certain extent, although there is a veritable riot of wood spices. 

With water the aromas become more nutty in character with some pleasant caramelised fruit putting in an appearance along with some meaty notes, but it’s still a sherry monster. The palate has mellowed and displays a similar nutty dénouement. Robust and juicy now with oodles of malty dark chocolate, burnt raisins and bitter-sweet citrus. Very long and mouth-filling with a moist fruit cake finish and a light peat note. A lovely sherry monster.

Berry Brothers Bunnahabhain 1990 (22 year old) 46%

Sherry Cask 19/ Dist: 1990 Btl: 2012/ Tasted: Apr 2013 

A seriously stinky and sulphured nose. You don’t actually have to get that near to the glass to be hit by the sulphurous fumes! I’m struggling to remember tasting a whisky that was so badly affected. If you can fight past all of that then there are huge dollops of chocolaty sherry, Bovril and balsamic notes. It’s a one-dimensional sherry monster. 

The palate is soft and sulphured, maybe not quite to the level of the nose but it’s ruined anyway. Again all cask with plenty of green nuts and dried fruit. Quite raw and tannic with a slightly bitter, green finish. I’m stunned that they have bottled this!

Berry Brothers Selection Bunnahabhain 1989 (23 year old) 46%

Bourbon Cask 5755/ Dist: 1989 Btl: 2012/ Tasted: Nov 2012

A lovely nose of sawdusty vanilla oak an fleshy, saline accentuated manuka honey. Very floral with white peach, apricot, banana and exotic fruits with a late menthol note. Superb complexity. 

The palate is soft and oilier, possibly a touch less expressive but gently fruity with the banana and tropical apricot showing. Late hints of summer barley and a touch of salinity. There’s not quite as much oak as the nose would lead you to believe but it does bitter the finish slightly. The finish is also surprisingly quite alcoholic too.

Alchemist Bunnahabhain 9 year old 46%

Sherry/ Tasted: May 2012

A high toned, herbal nose showing some youthful cereal (as expected) along with hints of peat, malt and balsamic notes. There is a modicum of re-fill sherry notes and with time a pleasant note of white flowers. 

The palate is crisp and intense but not spirity. It fills out rather well with some sweet cereally barley. The middle is quite herbal and the alcohol masks the finish somewhat. Like the nose there is not a lot of input from the cask. 

With water the nose becomes rather softer, fuller and floral with some light honey, toffee and earth now showing. The palate becomes creamier with more oak vanillins. The barley has a slight custard like sheen and the light honey makes it a touch sweeter. Now showing some light coastal notes.

Bladnoch Forum Bunnahabhain 1990 (22 year old) 50.2%

Re-Fill Sherry(?) Cask 18591/ Dist: 1990 Btl: May 2012/ Tasted: May 2012

A slightly high toned, herbal and spicy nose. Dense and earthy with plenty of gentle re-fill sherry character along with a touch of boiled sweets. Quite an elegant nose with a malty, a slightly balsamic note melding with the earthiness. For a relatively low abv, the alcohol is quite prickly. 

Wonderfully dense, soft and mature on the palate. Very complex with the re-fill sherry notes augmented by hints of liquorice and burnt wood. Very clean and fresh, leading to a citrus and camphor middle. The alcohol does slightly mask the finish but there are some lovely toffee-coffee and warming spices notes. 

A drop of water really opens the nose up. It has become exceedingly juicy with some gorgeous, succulent tangerine, citrus, hints of granulated sugar along with a touch of herbal orange blossom honey. Its maturity now shines through! 

The palate is gentle, mouth-filling and like the nose displaying a granulated sugar character. Beautifully soft now with hints of malt, dark, French coffee and burnt wood. Very harmonious and long with a late hint of peat smoke too!

Bladnoch Forum Bunnahabhain 1990 (22 year old) 50.8%

Re-Fill Sherry(?) Cask 5662/ Dist: 1990 Btl: June 2012/ Tasted: June 2012

A crisp, slightly astringently coastal nose. Relatively peated (for a Bunnah) with plenty of old wood notes. Very mature, earthy and slightly balsamic with a touch of sherry rich orange/ tangerine fruit and some hints of mature, fragrant honey. 

The palate is quite full and opens with some fleshy apricot and plenty of salt. There is a touch of mature honey but the alcohol is masking. Good length with the apricot returning as the alcohol intensity subsides along with a hint of peat and old sherry wood notes. 

With water the nose has become lighter and more elegant. Lightly honeyed with hints of white fruit and the orange fruit being more apparent. Reeking of maturity now and soft and juicy too. The palate is softer and oiler now with more toffee’d vanillins which coat the mouth with a lovely creaminess. Still quite full with a delicate thread of peat merging amongst the old wood and salt.