My sole Bunnahabhain review to date has been the An Cladach from their Global Travel Retail range. I did detail a little about the distillery in that piece so I'm not going to re-tread old ground. Instead I'm going to go straight into the notes for five Bunnahabhain expressions, four of which are still readily available and one of which is now only available at hefty outlay on the secondary market.
The first expression is the classic 12 year old. This is a mixture of ex-bourbon and sherry cask matured spirit that is at least 12 years old, this iteration of the 12 year old coming to market in 2010 with a presentation change from 40% to 46.3% abv alongside natural colour and non chill filtration. This is an old bottling from 2016 that I found stored away on my shelves before the 2017 bottle and tube facelift. It cost me £30 as I recall in Sainsburys.
Second up is the Stiuireadair, a non age statement expression that was released apparently to ease the pressure on stocks of the popular 12 year old. It has a high proportion of 1st and 2nd fill sherry casks. Like the 12 year old this is an unpeated whisky. This was bought in Sainsburys for £25.
Third up is the Toiteach A Dha. This time we hit peated territory alongside a sherried component. This came from Amazon at a cost of £43.
The fourth expression is the Moine is a heavily peated expression that is solely matured in ex-bourbon barrels and cost £33 from Amazon.
Like the 12 year old, all the aforementioned expressions are bottled at 46.3% abv, are natural colour and are non chill filtered. Whisky nerd checklist ticked!
The final expression is the 2003 PX finish. Distilled 24/03/2003 and bottled 21/06/2017 this expression was matured in Warehouse 8 in 2nd fill oloroso sherry casks for 11 years before a second maturation for 3 years in 1st fill Pedro Ximenez casks. I purchased bottle 6290 from 6768 from Fairleys for the princely sum of £83.
Bunnahabhain 12 year old
Colour: bronzy gold
Nose: A mix of tropical & citrus fruit initially - barbecued pineapple, orange segments and grilled apples. Leather, dark brown sugar and dark dried fruit....fig & raisin. Then vanilla pods, mild pepper and allspice. There is a maritime note too.
Palate: A nice, creamy mouthfeel - earthy malt accompanied by orange peel, clove rock, dried fruit and oloroso sherry. Toasted almonds & cocoa butter. Grilled apples again along with cask char and a wisp of brine.
Finish: Medium length with clove spice, cocoa and cask char.
Colour: Bright Gold
Nose: Green apples, sweet honey, vanilla, salted caramel. Some oil and cask char with a hint of salinity. A light dark dried fruit note with new leather.
Palate: Sweet & spicy - salted toffee apples, a light lemon note. Cinnamon, milk chocolate leading to a spike of chilli heat mid palate along with a menthol note.
Finish: The finish is fairly short but dominated by prickly chilli heat and a salty tang.
Bunnahabhain Toiteach A Dha
Nose: A very maritime nose to this one - cask char, engine oil and bonfire ash. Dry roasted salted peanuts and grilled lemons. Cracked black peppercorns, dried chilli flakes, orange peel, nutmeg and clove. Toffee, dates and dried apricot too.
Palate: Aromatic peat smoke and sea spray - then fruit - apricot, apple and peach. Fresh tobacco leaf. Raisins, dates, walnuts with brown sugar and dark chocolate. Black licorice, ground coffee and a flourish of chilli flakes.
Finish: Medium length with an oily and ashy quality along with salted dark chocolate.
Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: Definitely a very phenolic and medicinal nose. Iodine, lanolin, band aids, copper, sea salt, green apple and burnt sugar.
Palate: Uh oh!! Thin and watery on arrival. Very sweet initially - vanilla fudge, then crisp green apples, pencil shavings and a little bonfire smoke.....and that's yer lot.
Finish: extremely short with only a little spun sugar lingering.
Bunnahabhain 2003 Pedro Ximenez Finish
Nose: A little alcohol kick before thick, syrupy PX sherry punches your nostrils. Sweet california raisins, maple syrup, toffee & toasted almonds. A slight copper note with faint smoke. BBQ Ham, orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and dark chocolate.
Palate: Boom! Big sherried notes on arrival - molasses, dark brown sugar, raisin, fig and dates. Licorice and blackberries. Then candied orange, baking spices and a smattering of pepper. Dark chocolate bread and butter pudding that leans into a slight ashiness.
Finish: Quite long but dominated by dark chocolate and sweet, sweet raisins.
Overall: Lots to cover so lets crack on!
The 12 year old is quality stuff, well at least this bottle was. I've tried a recent bottle in the not to distant past and the bottle I have just seems more complex. It seems to be a thing with all the Distell distilleries that quality may just be slipping a touch. Even so the 12 year old has enough going on to be worthy of the asking price which is around £38-£40 depending on where you shop.
The Stiuireadair is okay. It really does taste like a young and under developed 12 year old and so at full price I would point you towards the 12 year old. On offer at £25 its fine for the daily sipper cabinet.
The Toiteach A Dha was surprisingly good. Sherry and peat done well are a good flavour partnership and to be fair Bunnahabhain have done well here. Worthy of the £43 entry fee.
The Moine - its a disaster. Totally devoid of flavour development and a thin and watery mouthfeel mean it's an expression to avoid.
The 2003 PX finish. Let's not beat around the bush - it's a total sherry monster and in that regard a bit one dimensional. This is cask dominating spirit within an inch of it's life. That's not to say that it's a bad thing, this is one tasty dram it's just that you couldn't recognise it as a Bunnahabhain in any form or fashion. Balanced it isn't, great fun and entertaining it certainly is....kinda like an Avengers movie.
However, I would caution tracking this down on the secondary market as it garners a hefty premium. If you are after a sherry bomb there are now much better value drops out there, especially at the original asking price of £83.
Bunnahabhain 12 year old - 7 out of 10
Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair - 5 out of 10
Bunnhabhain Toiteach A Dha - 7 out of 10
Bunnahabhain Moine - 2 out of 10
Bunnahabhain 2003 PX - 7 out of 10
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