Bought: SMWS, 6th May 2016
88/100 – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
Those who have read my SMWS Review (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) wont be surprised to hear that this Bunnahabhain will be my last ever SMWS bottle in my collection. Although the majority of what this illustrious independent bottler produce is excellent it was their customer service that let them down and I allowed my membership to expire last year. Nevertheless the opportunity to get a cask-strength Bunnahabhain was too good to resist, so I purchased 10.93 entitled ‘Sweet but Dangerous’ before leaving the society.
I love the standard 46.3% bottling of the Bunnahabhain 12yo, perhaps a little too much, which is why this 9yo by the SMWS failed to impress me. The distillery’s 12yo is mature, refined, smooth and well crafted. Unfortunately this 9yo has none of those qualities and at 61.8% it was very difficult to tame. Maybe I didn’t get the water right, or perhaps it will improve over time as it sits in an open bottle. It wasn’t bad but I wouldn’t go as far as scoring it 88/100 as one member does on Whiskybase. For me it was more like an 85/100 compared to 90/100 for the standard 12yo.
Here are the tasting notes as provided by the SMWS for the Bunnahabhain ‘Sweet and Dangerous’ 9yo:
“Flavour profile: Peated
The nose took us to a beach bonfire – peat smoke, heather, gorse, salty sea air and moules marinières – but one panellist had his own barbeque in a hospital car-park. With water, we imagined coal-tar, liquorice and teriyaki-glazed ribs, an Islay High Street in winter and Dick Van Dyke’s chimney-sweep cap. The neat palate was enormous – deep smoke, chewy dark toffee, mechanics overalls, a disinfected operating theatre, hints of farmyard and pork and apple sausages roasting on a smoky barbeque. The reduced palate – liquorice and clove confectionery – sweet but dangerous (like Mary Poppins!) – and all enjoyed down-wind of an Islay pagoda.
Drinking tip: At a beach bonfire – or while watching a certain movie.”
Bought: Whisky Broker, 4th February 2016
C – Whiskybase (from 1 member vote)
Why oh why have I taken so long to get another example of Bunnahabhain? When I finally opened the standard distillery 12yo bottle I fell in love. It’s one of my favourite whiskies of all time and a replacement bottle is on my shopping list. The next step up should be the standard 18yo, which Jim Murray scores 93.5/100 in his Whisky Bible 2016, some 8 points ahead of the 12yo (in his opinion). But, if truth be told, my reluctance to get older examples of Bunna was because I read on a forum to beware of certain vintage bottles where dodgy casks were used. That might be the case but you wouldn’t think so from marks given to 20yo+ bottles in the Whisky Bible where the majority score over 90/100. I like whisky forums but they do have a habit of perpetuating old information and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of that myself. I still think of Jura as being inferior whisky, much like I remember the days we all laughed at Skoda cars.
Unfortunately there is only one review of this Bunna 23yo by the Whisky Broker and it doesn’t sound amazing. The Whiskybase member says of the taste “a peppery/vibrant but controlled arrival of a creamy, oily, drying grain with a vibrant bitter-sour liquorice which then heads straight to a super-dry, salty, grassy/heathery barley cul-de-sac. There is however an unexpected and spritely reprise producing a line of [dried] fruity vanilla that carries into the finish. Becomes hard work after a while, the dry astringency becoming heavy work over time. 5cl is more than enough for me.” They summarise with “nose is best, followed by the arrival. The more it goes on, the more it acknowledges its sluggish cask predisposition. Its often more Speyside in style than Islay although that dry saltiness doesn’t betray its terroir.”
Perhaps this 5cl miniature isn’t a fair example of Bunnahabhain over 20-years-old but that’s not to say there aren’t some good examples out there. For now the 18yo is firmly in my sights but there are some tempting NAS offerings available at airports.
Bought – Waitrose, 17th March 2014
85.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2014
91/100 – Ralfy, of www.ralfy.com
Review: – Ralfy – Bunnahabhain 12yo – YouTube
When I bought a miniature of the Bunnahabhain 12yo last year, I wasn’t up to speed with my Bunnahabhain history. What I’d managed to acquire without knowing was a pre-summer 2010 version of the 12yo, bottled at 40%. In March this year Waitrose had a good offer on a full 70cl bottle and I decided to upgrade my miniature. A bit of research and I discovered this was a new version first released in the summer of 2010. Being 46.3%, no added colour and non-chill filtered, I can see why Ralfy gives it a massive 91/100.
As impressed as Ralfy is, Jim Murray (author of the Whisky Bible) is less so. He scored the old 12yo version 84.5/100 and only gives this new version 1 point more. Why, because apparently there was an even better version of the 12yo before (in his opinion), so any new 12yo has a lot to prove. Nevertheless, Jim is very complimentary about this new version saying “lovers of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut will adore this” and “some outstanding moments”.
Ralfy says in his review (from 2010) that Bunnahabhain is the least peated of the Islay whiskies, and therefore tends to be overlooked. Since I’m a Speyside fan I’ve got a feeling I’m going to really enjoy this 12yo! I’ll have to get some Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut to go with it! 🙂
Bought – Drink Supermarket, 28th July 2013
84.5/100 – Whisky Bible 2009