The name Bunnahabhain is Gaelic for ‘Mouth of the River’ and refers to the Margadale River. The location of the distillery was chosen mainly because it is easily accessible from the mainland by boat. Furthermore, Bunnahabhain is one of the gentler single malt Islay whiskies available and its taste varies greatly from other spirits to be found on the island of Islay by being notably a less-peated dram.
Region: Islay, Scotland
Style: Single Malt
Age: 18 Years
The Bunnahabhain Distillery was founded in 1881 near Port Askaig on Islay. The village of Bunnahabhain was also established in 1881 to house the distillery’s workers, and the distillery still employs the majority of the village’s workers. In 2010 Bunnahabhain increases the proof of their official bottlings from 40% or 43% to 46.3% ABV. And in 2013 Burn Stewart Distillers (the owners of the Bunnahabhain, Deanston and Tobermory distilleries) was sold by CL Financial to Distell from South Africa for £160 million.
The 18 year old is a comparatively recent release from Bunnahabhain and this single malt has been matured in an approximate mix of 40% ex-sherry and 60% ex-bourbon casks for 18 years. It was recently re-introduced as an un-chillfiltered spirit at a higher strength of 46.3% and the packaging has been slightly revised to complement the new expression. The label highlights the move to natural colour and un-chillfiltered.
Colour: Deep burnished gold with slow forming and many thick legs.
Nose: Caramelised nuts and toffee sweetness with some seaside saltiness. Also picking up notes of Christmas cake, sherried dried fruit and cinnamon. On the slight side of things there are hints of salty brininess, woodiness and malt cereal. And finally in the furthest reaches of the background a very gently smoke lingers.
Palate: Very smooth with a mellow spiciness bite. Attractive wood spice (tip of tongue burn), that seaside saltiness once again and malty. There is also fruit sweetness (pears) to it. Again some of that very gentle smoke hanging in the background. The palate completely coats one’s mouth.
Finish: Long with lingering sweet spiciness that ends in a salty, yet fruity, and dry finish. With the barest of gentle smoke at the end.
Overall: A very nicely balanced whisky with the lovely mixture between spice and fruit sweetness. The smoke is also there, but very faint and you have to go looking for it, to round it out.
My Score: 87