Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Malt Mission 2007 #132

Bunnahabhain 18 yo
Islay Single Malt Whisky

Bunnahabhain (boo-na-havin') means 'mouth of the river' and has been dubbed "the gentle taste of Islay" due to the comparative 'lightness' among Islay malts. The river is its water source, River Margadale, that runs with hard, slightly peaty water. And the gentle taste does not mean Bunnahabhain lacks character or complexity.

Like many Scottish malt distilleries, Bunnahabhain has had a patchy production history. The distillery was founded in 1881 (same year as fellow Islay malt, Bruichladdich) and began production in 1883. The distillery operated for just two years between 1930 and 1947, only to close again in 1982. Production began again in 1984 and in 1999 Edrington became Bunnahabain's new owner and celebrated by mothballing the distillery, allowing a few weeks of production per year. In 2003 Bunnahabhain was sold (along with Black Bottle) to Burn Stewart Distillers for no small fee.

2005 saw the expansion of the range, albeit a limited one (1500 bottles) when the standard 12 year old was joined by an 18 year old and 25 year old. We'll be introduced to both of those this week. Thanks to The Whisky Exchange for the samples.

Last Bunnahabhain I had as a part of the mission was back at Malt Mission #17


Honey, toasty malt at the heart of this. Salty and oily. Aloe. Sour apples and a slight chemical smell. I have heard it described as spray paint and would go along with that.

Nice sherry impact with honey malt throughout. Not soft or gentle, but rugged like the road between the distillery and the ferry at Port Askaig (which actually isnt that rugged, so maybe a bad comparison...) But a slightly astringent, aggressive impact. Suprising at this strength, but so be it. Yields a lot of rich flavours (honey, sherry, oak, baked apples, fresh bread, toasted pine nuts) but it all vanishes quickly in a hot dry puff of sherry and raw pork.


Bunnahabhain is a drinking whisky. When I lived in Scotland the 12yo was found on optic in many pubs and I assure you no one was nosing it when they ordered a dram. This whisky is big and rich, a touch feisty, without hanging around too long, encouraging another sip, and subsequently another serving. Fine. But bloody expensive.

Malt Mission #131
Malt Mission #133
Malt Mission #134
Malt Mission #135

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1 comment:

AO said...

Hey man,

Haven't been to the blog in a while. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many of my "sherried favorites" making it into August, esp. the Quarter Cask and Lagavulin Distillers'.

I wanted to let you know about another whisky-buying shop, owned by a Belgian I met on the ferry to Islay in May. You can find his stock at: http://www.ambrosius.be/single_malt_whisky.htm

Apparently, although I haven't tried it yet, he says he can ship to Canada.

Imagine that!