For the majority of their output, Bunnahabhain use bourbon & sherry casks, typically an 80/20 split by volume. Today’s tasting will demonstrate some of Bunnahabhain’s more colourful cask experiments.
“Frich and ruity” is just one of the superb spoonerisms from Alise, who presented brilliantly. A bright future no less. She tells us that Distell bought Bunnahabhain for their Scottish Leader brand, popular in Asia where many of the Feis Ile bottlings will inevitably end up.
The Foz & I find ourselves sat next to Tom & Dawn, a Yorkshire cycling duo we have had the pleasure of bumping into almost everyday since Campbeltown.
Bunnahabhain 11yo  Ob. Warehouse 9 Muscat finish cask sample #268/AR16 54.5% [20cl] WB89
This 11yo spent 9 years in bourbon before two in Muscat.
- N: Standout notes include bourbon-soaked apricots and a deep dry squidgy foosty sweetness. Who doesn’t like that?
- T: A dry-not-drying mouthfeel.
- F: Super dessert-sweet, fruity, salty & caramel-y finish.
- C: A heavy bourbon influence but the Muscat finish takes the spirit & subsequent mouthfeel to surprising & pleasing new places. Memorable a year on.
Scores 87 points
Bunnahabhain 2009/2018 8yo Ob. Warehouse 9 Rioja cask sample #636 57.3% [20cl] WB86.73
This saw full maturation in one Spanish (Rioja) red wine cask. A true single cask!
- N: Dry sherry and hessian tones with sweet bourbon underlying. I find this winey malty yeasty sweetness equally intriguing & pleasing.
- T: The nose runs through true on the palate.
- F: Dry-but-not-drying herbal action within the context of a constant sweet chew and long finish thereafter.
- C: If red wine casks and barley spirit are to work together with regularity, and if we become jaded with STR, this kind of resulting style could lead the way.
Scores 85 points
Bunnahabhain 2005/ 13yo Ob. Warehouse 9 Manzanilla cask sample #331 51.3% [20cl] WB89.21
- N: Starts with a [sherried] pong that lifts, though it’s still all-sherry thereafter.
- T: Overwhelmed by sherry.
- F: Sherry finish of course, the saving grace being Manzanilla as a cask finish can be lighter/more forgiving than say oloroso or PX.
- C: Very tasty despite the cask totally overwhelming the spirit. Nevertheless it’s a good cask.
Scores 80 points.
Bunnahabhain 2004/2018 14yo Ob. Warehouse 9 PX NOE sherry butt #555 54.8% [20cl] WB88.14
From a PX NOE butt that had 30yo+ of sherry still inside. The Foz wonders whether the cask had seen any whisky before that. “Noe”, replies Tom.
- N: Toasted barley, slightly mouldy barley, candy, a farmy note,…
- T: Quite a narrow & astringent PX vibe with a delicious mouthfeel however.
- F: Nearly all PX save for a honeyed maltiness.
- C: There’s no drink like it, that I know of. Not quite whisky in my book, but technically it qualifies and it is delicious. Our scores ranged between no score and 86, but I feel I was scoring the quality cask and previous contents much of the time.
So, not scored
We move onto a [35ppm tops] peated cask – cue viking cheers!
Bunnahabhain 14yo  Un-Ob. Warehouse 9 Moine PX cask sample #AR13000005/#89324 53.4% [20cl] WB88.95
We are told that this is exactly the type of cask that goes into Bunna’s Moine. This one spent 9 years in [bourbon?] refill before being transferred into a PX cask in 2013.
- N: Mild yet decidedly sweet vegetal dry, yeasty & oily with a toasted sweet corn relish appetiser.
- T: Oozes dry-but-not-drying wet peat. Becomes seriously moorish, moving along at a natural pace.
- F: Dry-but-not-drying neat peat-smoked barley finish with smoked/charred chestnuts.
- C: This dry-not-drying quality on the palate is emerging as my Bunna distillery character of the week. “Ask for the peated PX warehouse dram in the shop“.
Scores 86 points
A really interesting tasting, similar to Caol Ila’s Manager’s Masterclass