One of the fun things about trying different whiskies, in particular single malts, is the potential to be surprised. It doesn’t happen often enough but when a single malt does surprise me then that distillery tends to stick in my mind. The Bunnahabhain 12 did exactly that. I had often heard people describe the distillery as being different to other Islay because of the lower levels of peat or PPM – maybe a gentler introduction to the peated Islay style. Even though I knew this I was still surprised to find how wonderfully balanced it was where instead of peat I got more of a gentle coastal feel with a heavy splash of hazelnut chocolate. It was very quaffable. The unfortunate thing with their range is that you need to stretch your budget to over £100 to try the next age statement malt in the range and in between that there are numerous non age statements that I have yet to fathom. Even though I enjoyed the 12 year old, I was not willing to splash out £100+ on the 18 so I had purchased a sample.
Whisky: Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 46.3%
Nose: Malty, coastal, sherry, hint of chocolate, leather, nuts, earth
Taste: Malt, salt, roasted nuts, oak, sherry sweetness
Finish: Earth, salt, roasted nuts
Summary: Not sure what to make of this. Firstly I think it is overpriced for what it has to offer. I can taste the resemblance to the 12 year old but with a stronger sherry presence, which for me doesn’t enhance it much and rather takes away from the coastal and chocolate hazelnut notes I was getting from the 12. There an earthiness to it, maybe the combination of oak and light peat and the coastal element is not so much there. This is pleasant but not a standout – which it needs to be at the price.
Scoring scale: My scores reflect a balance of the overall experience, availability and cost for a whisky,
1 – not to my preference
2 – tastes fine but does not excite me
3 – more to my liking and would revisit occasionally
4 – very much to my liking and would consider as a regular feature on my whisky shelf
5 – permanent feature on my whisky shelf
Image source: www.thewhiskeyexchange.com