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As you may be aware from reading my other reviews on whisky, I am a big fan of peaty smokey whiskies. More to the point, I am a fan of Islay whisky which is where you tend to find peaty and smokey whiskies. So a few years ago when I was in the supermarket taking a look to see if there were any nice drinks on offer, I spotted this one Bunnahabhain 12 year old single malt whisky. I noticed it was an Islay whisky and it was one I had not tried before, plus it was on offer and had £6 off so I thought I would give it a try.
So what is Bunnahabhain like, well to be honest, it disappointed me. Usually with the Islay whiskies you get that strong peaty smell as soon as you uncork the bottle. That was not the case with this one. I poured myself a small dram and swished it around in the glass. The colour of this one is quite light although not as light as say an Ardbeg. I took another whiff and was a little concerned by the lack of peat, instead I got quite a sweet smell, not something I am overly keen on.
So how about the taste of Bunnahabhain? Well as you may have guessed it was decidedly unpeaty. Quite a smooth whisky but not the typical Islay that I was expecting and hoping for. The whisky is quite sweet and has hints of spice in there are a tiny note of peat, but nothing to get excited about. I think I'm right in saying this whisky is made in sherry casks hence the sweet taste and this is something I am not overly fond of. There were also subtle hints of salt in there which reminded me of the shoreline. The finish to this one is very mellow but not as long as it should be, you kind of feel like something is missing when you take a drink.
Bunnahabhain now comes in at 46.3% so it's quite a strong whisky, but it doesn't taste that strong when you are drinking it. It just feels a little wishy washy somehow. When it comes to price you are usually looking at around £28 although as I said at the start this is one that is sometimes on offer and I bought it for around £22 a while back.
Overall then this is not a whisky I was overly impressed with. Despite that though it's all down to personal taste and I imagine quite a few people do like this one. If you are a new whisky drinker then this is quite a mellow one that is easy drinking. If you buy it though expecting it to be a peat monster and have that familiar smokey taste then I think you will be disappointed. If you want a nice Islay, then my advice is to look elsewhere.
Bunnahabhain is another quality Islay Whisky. A little different from the others nothing superior, but worthy of the occasional change from the peaty campfire favorites. The most licorice of any scotch I've tasted, for that it gets uniqueness bonus point!
Even the bottle is something a little different, emerald green with the helmsman emblazoned within a golden porthole on the front. It comes complete with a booklet and a black gift tube that the bottle fits snugly into.
As for the whisky itself, the colour is Light Amber.
Flavors: Orange, Butter and Sea Air along with the smell of a Campfire on the Beach. Sweet moss, marzipan paste, licorice.
Light-medium body, thin feel on the tongue, though a very light refined oil creaminess. This whisky has a slight bite to it, nothing Hot, just a slight bite.
Has a Oaky, creamy, and slighly salty finish. Doesn't linger.
Overall a really good solid whisky, not typical of the other Islay whiskys this is just a little different. Some people will like it some will not, is not really my personnal favorite but glad I gave it a try.
Always helps to add just a dash of water, this is true of many whiskys and this one is no exception. Just make sure you don't put to much in!!
Price is not to bad. I think it cost me £25 for a bottle, and I imagine if you shop around a little you might get it for cheaper. As for value its not bad at all, not to expensive and as I said one worth giving a try.
If you want to spend a little more you could try Bunnahabhain 18 year or the Bunnahabhain 25 year. Obviously these are a little more costly and I cant say I ever tried them. But as with most whiskys age only improves them so am sure if you like the 12 year you will enjoy these versions.
So definately one that is worth a try. Something different, if your not keen on Islay whiskys don't let that put you off trying this one! You may find you really enjoy it!
The Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old Single Malt is another fine whisky. Perhaps we ought to start with how to pronounce it Boona'havn (it means mouth of the creek). It is an Islay Malt and comes in standard 70cl bottles or miniatures. It is 40% by volume and retails at around £24.99 a bottle. It is readily available in the Supermarkets, at specialist retailers (both in their shops or online) and online in the Distillery Shop. The Distillery operates a Website www.bunnahabhain.com , which I think is one of the better websites. There is loads of information and also an online shop. The Distillery also has a visitor centre which opens March to October.
In terms of buying Malt Whisky and trying different types for the first time. There are several options. Specialist Whisky Shops (Wee Dram, Royal Mile Whiskys', Milroys of Soho, Cadenheads, The Whisky Shop in Lincoln, that shop in Stamford Bridge that I can never remember the name of etc) and indeed some Oddbins and some Majestic Wines will allow you to taste before you buy. Another option is to buy miniatures, not all Malt is available in miniatures but quite a few are. There is more than enough in a miniature to allow you to taste (5 cl). The third option is read Reviews like mine, although I have to say that whisky tasting is a very personal thing. I may find different tastes and smells to those which you find. Most importantly don't think that there is some mystery about Malt, there isn't. There is a wide enough selection, over 2000 Single Scottish malts to find one which you like.
Bunnahabhain has been operating as a distillery since 1881. They currently produce a modest range of 12 year old, 18 year old, and 25 year old with a couple of Special Malts the 1971 vintage and the Pedro Ximenex Finish. There are others around at specialist retailers. At this point I've tried the 12, 18 and 25 year olds. Bunnahabhain is an unusual Islay Malt. Water is an important component in the flavouring of Malt Whisky. Islay is a heavily peated area so as a general rule Islay malts are very peaty (almost smoky) in smell and taste. If you don't like peat you tend not to like Islay Malts. Indeed Islay Malts generally tend to be a bit of an acquired taste. I, personally, think they are great. Bunnahabhain is different. All its' Water is Margedale Spring water. It comes through rock, limestone, and is piped to the distillery. Consequently it is much less peaty than other Islay Malts. There is a peatyness about it but it is only faint smell, making it a much more palatable whisky and a nice introduction to Malts more generally.
Now for the tasting
I'm sat in front of my PC again this time with a full bottle, a tasting (nosing) glass (its got a bowl and a narrowing neck - it cost me £3.99 from Wee Dram Whisky shop in Bakewell in Derbyshire - if you've got a brandy glass that'll do)and a jug of fresh still water (Highland Spring to be precise - I prefer bottled water as tap water often has its' own sometimes unpleasant taste). Another reason I'm doing this in front of my PC is that the lighting is exceptional. Good lighting helps when you're tasting as it enhances the effect, and makes the colours more vivid. For the first time I've taken some photographs. One of the Bottle, incidentally this bottle is an old shape, I've had it a while. There is now a new shape. One of a nosing glass, empty, then with the Whisky in it. The first photo is taken with a flash the second without.
I've just stuck my nose in the bottle as usual , it smells really fresh and sweet, a bit light sweet sherry.
As usual I pour a decent measure into the glass. At this point I haven't added anything to it.
So I've poured the whisky into the glass and hold the glass up to the light. This is a gold, colour As I keep saying tasting and drinking good malt whisky is an experience to be enjoyed and savoured.
At this point I'm going to start drinking(or should I say tasting)adding water, about as much water as there is whisky. Don't swirl it around just stick your nose in the glass and sniff, which is what I'm doing. You're nose gets hit by a smell that is fresh and almost salt like (it reminds you of the seaside), you can smell the malt and there is that sherry smell. As usual, at this point my taste buds are getting excited. I keep sniffing to heighten the sense of expectation. Incidentally its' actually helpful to sniff the whisky at least at least three times, it makes sure that you pick up as much of the flavours as possible. Don't forget that smell is a major part of how we appreciate and taste food and drink.
Then taste it, again I'm not just swallowing it. Its' almost like chewing , moving the whisky around my mouth to spread the taste all over my palate. Thee is a taste of fruit, then a gentle nutty malty taste and you can taste oak. Its' sweet and you can detect that faint (and it is faint) peatyness about it. I really like Bunnahabhain, it was only the third malt I ever drank and I loved it then and I still love it. It feels really light.
Then as I swallow it there is a malty taste with traces of vanilla with a really faint hint of peat and that sweetness yet at the same time it tastes somewhat refreshing. It is a nice gentle drink
The whole tasting is a great experience. More importantly adding water, I think, releases the flavour. It helps you decide what you do and don't like. Do I like it? Yes Do I recommend it? Yes - to any one who either likes Malt or would like a nice introduction to Malt. At £24.99 a bottle it is a bargain. When you buy it, it comes in a nice cardboard carton with a little booklet tellying you all about Bunnahabhain, what more could you ask for...
On my rather personal and arbitrary scale 8/10 - a nice malt drinking malt.
Let me begin by saying that I am primarily a Brandy drinker (my dad was the one in the family who always had Whisky)Having said that,I have tried MANY different Whiskys over the years,thanks to my dad buying all different types of Malts and Blends and asking my opinion of them.None of the Whiskys I tried would tempt me away from my Brandy.Nearly all of them were far too harsh to the palate (especially the Blends) or had a very heavy peaty taste to them. My dad passed away 7 years ago and among the possessions left to me was his collection of Whisky miniatures (over 200)I kept them as they were for a few years for sentimental reasons and then decided I would slowly go through them all and taste the different Whiskys that my dad loved. I was amazed at how different one Whisky can be from the next,even some of the Blends (which I normally detest) were quite light and palatable.Then one fateful night I opened a bottle of Bunnahabhain and was both suprised and delighted at what was inside.This was by far the smoothest Whisky I had ever tasted.No sudden recoil from a bitter taste as it hit the back of my throat,just a lovely smooth warming sensation as it slid down to my stomach.No harsh aroma that you fear would ignite if a naked flame went within 10 feet of it,just a light and almost honey-like aroma,and no bitter after taste left in the mouth,just a slightly peaty taste which is far from unpleasant. I was hooked!!I went out the next day and bought a bottle of it and have continued buying it to this day.I still have many,many miniatures of my dads to open,but I will be suprised if I find one that is as easy drinking as this. So in conclusion,if you are a Whisky drinker and have not tried Bunnahabhain,then do so as soon as you can,you will not be dissapointed.If you are not a Whisky drinker then give it a try and you could well find yourself standing there with an empty glass and a smile on your face!! If you would like to know more about the Dis
tilerry,then point your browser to: www.islaywhiskysociety.com/bunnahabhain
I am so overwhelmed with happiness at the appearance of this category that it has taken me a few days to get my act together and write something for it. Where to start? Do I go back ten years to when I was dragged off on a family holiday to Speyside, and ramble nostalgically about that first sneaky underage sip of Glenfiddich at the end of the distillery tour? No, I will start from more recent times... the drawing room of the Greshornish House Hotel in northern Skye. A wood fire lulls the room into mellow warmth, and from the window seat I look down across a sloping lawn to the deep blue waters of the loch. From the hotel’s extensive selection of malts (priced suitably for American tourists), I have chosen Bunnahabhain. Or perhaps Bunnahabhain has chosen me. I expect jagged peaty depth from this Islay malt, but the scent is somehow warmer and softer. I take a sip... and suddenly the meaning of life becomes clear... “Delicious” seems too flighty and superficial a word to suit Bunnahabhain, but at the moment my stock of adjectives seems to be falling a little short so it will have to do. The peatiness which makes Islay malts so distinctive is there, but it is a more rounded, mellow version, like falling in slow motion into a huge layer of pillows. There is a slight sweetness to it, but it is more of a warm, honey sweetness than a harsh sugary one. Imagine sitting on a high, deserted moorland hillside, with clear but lazy September sunshine caressing the heather, and a faint breeze carrying pure silence from an expanse of smooth, deep loch. Well, that is what drinking Bunnahabhain is like. It is silkily smooth and subtle, but deep and characterful – a perfect combination. But it must have some disadvantages, surely? Well, Bunnahabhain is not a whisky for beginners. That sounds incredibly patronising, so please forgive me. I certainly wouldn’t claim to be an expert but I do think you have to have so
me experience of malt whisky to appreciate fully any Islay malt. If you have never drunk malt whisky before, you would sip Bunnahabhain and wonder what I’ve been going on about as you’d quite probably think it was disgusting. The palate needs to be developed in order to gain a genuine appreciation of peaty overtones and, judging purely by my personal experience, I would say that a person’s tastes change over a period of years. For anyone interested in venturing into the wonderful world of malt whisky, I would suggest starting with something lighter such as Dalwhinnie or Glenfiddich. Bunnahabhain is something of a metaphorical “bridge” to Islay, combining Islay peatiness with a more mellow overall effect. Ironically, for many years the total production of the Bunnahabhain distillery was shipped elsewhere to be used in blends. The decision to bottle it as a malt was extremely wise. I think that preferences in malt whisky are very personal and individual, but for me Bunnahabhain is a treasure that deserves greater fame.
Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old Whisky, what can I say about this mouth watering drink. I discovered this tasty whisky several years ago when a representitive of the Bunnahabhain Distillery visited my local watering hole, and, offered the patrons a few drams, seeing there wasn't many patrons in, it was more than a few. This is a very easy going single malt, I found it smooth with a slightly fruity taste, a lovely aroma, not too powerful but a lovely glowing feeling inside. Drink it neat or with a touch of water. Spoil yourself. ENJOY.
Single malt Scotch - much less powerful than other Islay malts, it's much closer to a Ledaig in it's combination of fruit-and-nut maltiness and sea-air heartiness