KWM Whisky Advent 2017 Day 17 – Bunnahabhain 12 Year
Evan is blogging again today:
Bunnahabhain Distillery is the northernmost distillery on Islay – it lays off the beaten path and is somewhat remote even when compared to the rest of the island. Until the 1960s when they finally built a road to the distillery it was only reachable by boat. Bunnahabhain is one of a trio of Scottish Single Malt Distilleries owned by Burn Stewart (Distell Group), who also own Tobermory Distillery on the Isle of Mull and Deanston Distillery in Perthshire. Like it’s siblings, most of the flagship single malts from Bunnahabhain are bottled unchill-filtered and with no added colouring at the the curious but commendable strength of 46.3% ABV.
This Islay distillery was founded in 1881 and started its life making the heavily peated whisky that the region is famous for. For most of its history its whisky was exclusively used in blends, and even today only a fraction of its production is bottled as a single malt. In 1963 production was increased and at the same time the distillery’s style was changed to the lighter, unpeated single malt whisky it is known for today. Since 1997 there have been small amounts heavily peated (35 PPM malt spec) single malt made each year but it is not what the distillery is known for.
The core of Bunnahabhain’s production and lineup is still not all that peaty as they use a malt spec with a maximum phenolic level of 2ppm. This makes it one of the more gently peated Islay single malts available. The distillery and its whisky are sometimes referred to as the “Gentle Giant of Islay!” What it lacks in smoke and peat it typically makes up for in nuanced and complex character and plenty of sherry cask influence. Older Bunnahabhain tends to be a treat if you can track it down but today let’s partake an introduction to the distillery’s finesse with the Bunnahabhain 12 year old. Bottled at 46.3% ABV.
Bunnahabhain 12 Year - 46.3% – Evan’s Tasting Note: “Nose: Christmas cake. Big sherry cask with dried fruits, salted caramels, and new leather coming through. Black pepper, raisins, dates, dark, dark italian panforte with plenty nuts and fruit in the mix, dark chocolate, well-stocked humidor and even hints of coffee grounds and liquorice. Palate: Rich and mouth coating with some spices and saltiness. Dried blueberries, fruit leather, christmas cake, chocolate covered berries and raisins, hints of nutmeg, salty black liquorice, ground black pepper, heavily steeped black tea, and hints of bitter coffee. Finish: It ends how it begins – with christmas cake, black liquorice, salt and mild spice notes. Comment: It has been a while since I have sampled the Bunna 12 year. I love the 18 year but it is good to be reminded of how well put-together this 12 year is – especially given the price.” - $75 for a 700ml – or – $10 for a 50ml