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  • Writer's pictureHarold

Bunnahabhain Trio

There’s been plenty of change in recent years over at Bunnahabhain between Master Distillers, major site renovations, and even ownership as of late. In fact, the only consistent thing, besides Distillery Manager Andrew Brown, is the spirit. Oily, robust, dirty…some of the many reasons it’s always been in such large demand from the blending houses, and naturally independent bottlers alike. Today I’ve paired some of that spirit that got away with a distillery exclusive (I picked up a few years ago) and a legendary sherry monster!

 
Bunnahabhain (Sansibar)  2009/11 Year |Finest Whisky Berlin| Sherry Cask - 52.7%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Bunnahabhain (Sansibar)

2009/11 Year |Finest Whisky Berlin| Sherry Cask - 52.7%


The guys over at Finest Whisky shop in Berlin have been working with the German distributor/independent bottler “Sansibar” to bottle the “Finest Whisky Berlin” series for about 5 years now exclusively to the German/Dutch market. The whisky’s distillery is typically shown through beautiful artwork on the front label, which often helps when labeled under a secret pseudonym. There’s little mystery here though, as it looks like we have a classic sherried Bunnahabhain, which is typically a good start.


Appearance: Mahogany

First Whiff: Red stripe gum and tootsie rolls.

Nose: Top notes are the typical sherry/woody flavors… hazelnuts, confectionery milk chocolate (Tootsie rolls), mixed with those resinous characteristics like cigar boxes, rancio, roasted malt. Digging deeper there’s a bit of spice…some light cinnamon, and caramel. Good start, but we’re a bit on the flammable side here though; hoping that's not the case on the palate.

Palate: Alcohol 's well integrated thankfully, but the texture falls a bit thin, unfortunately. There’s a bit too much of the oak in here than I would like, which really dries out the sweet/fruitier notes. A little too dry for me. Slightly musty with some pencil shavings and tart red apple. Dried stone fruits in the back really keep this one alive…After some air time: Red cherries, red plums. Cherry compote mixed with some linoleum (linseed) oil.

Finish: : Short, peppery, slightly oily.


Summary: A solid Bunnah by most standards. The back label only mentions it was "mature in sherry," which is almost as bad as saying it's been "age in oak," but I would presume that part of the dryness I was getting was coming from oloroso maturation. The other part presumably coming from the spirit itself. The younger stuff seems to have a bit more of it, often presenting as citrus burn off note, for me. Air time certainly helped.

IDS SCORE: 87

 
Bunnahabhain 2003/14 Year |Limited Release|  Pedro Ximénez Finish 54.3%
Bottle Image Credit: Whiskybase

Bunnahabhain

2003/14 Year |Limited Release|

Pedro Ximénez Finish 54.3%


A legendary bottling from recent memory, and one of my first real social media whiskies; popularized at the time of its release by just about any Instagrammer that was able to get their hands on it...and for good reason! Bunnahabhain’s naturally robust, oily, Victorian style spirit paired with the sweet, syrupy, unctuous style of PX sherry was destined to be a crowd pleaser and left little of us wanting. It’s been quite some time since I went back to this one. Let’s see if the fond memories hold up.


Appearance: Auburn

First Whiff: Warm Peach cobbler.

Nose: Warm caramels, chocolate fudge, cooked stone/candied orange fruits. Good spices, cloves, cardamoms. I could spend a lot of time with this one.

Palate: Sweet, syrupy, oozing with an almost tawny port style deep, dark sweetness. Blackberries, red plums, fudge…oh godddd is there FUDGE! No water necessary. Candied apricots and warm Maduro wrapped tobacco leaves on the backend.

Finish: Medium long, not long enough… (that’s what…NO no no). Dusty cocoa, vanilla extract, slightly old wood funk.


Summary: Some people say this is over-oaked, but I tend to disagree. Some distillates need to be slapped around a bit by a great sherry cask from time to time, or maybe drowned in this case. Priced at $89.99 here in the States back in 2017…this may have been the last “steal” of a limited release from Bunnah considering what they’re charging for all their “limited” bottlings these days. Can’t help but notice they gather quite a bit of dust as well.

IDS SCORE: 90

 
Bunnahabhain  2003/15 Year Amontillado Finish  (Distillery Exclusive) - 57.4%
Bottle Image Credit: Scotch Whisky Auctions

Bunnahabhain

2003/15 Year Amontillado Finish (Distillery Exclusive) - 57.4%


One of the benefits to large ownership in whisky production (Distell in this case), is certainly the capital/relationships it brings to facilitate a proper cask program. Amontillado is still somewhat of an exotic cask, outside of Jerez/Montilla, and the science behind creating this particular style of sherry usually makes it rather difficult/expensive to source in large quantities. Luckily for Bunnah, as well as its sister distilleries Deanston and Tobermory, they’ve been able to explore their distillate in a wide array of casks in recent years though.


Appearance: Auburn, Tawny

First Whiff: French grapes on vacation in Spain.

Nose: Cognac heavy, resinous, nutty profile with more of those candied oranges which seem to be the theme of this tasting. Chocolatey honey, with a touch of spice.

Palate: Oily. Some smoky cigar notes, little salty, little dry, leathery smoked lox. Dark chocolate, warm caramels, and rum raisin ice cream.

Finish: Medium-long. An abundance of lingering dried fruits…apricots, peaches…and smoked/salty fish.


Summary: Another oak-bomb for sure…but again, I’m a fan of this style when it comes to Bunnah’s spirit. I just think it plays so well. Rarely do I picture myself in a certain scene or imagery while drinking whisky but for some reason this one makes me imagine I’m sitting on a worn out brown, leather chair in my make believe study. Obviously, there’s with a wood burning fireplace glowing in the background while I’m surrounded by my enormous selection of leather bound books too. I know…as prototypical it gets, right?

IDS SCORE: 90

 

Bunnahabhain Trio

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