Product Type: Bunnahabhain Distillery Vodka
Newest Review: ... like, well to be honest, it disappointed me. Usually with the Islay whiskies you get that strong peaty smell as soon as you uncork th... more
The One for Me
Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old Whisky
Member Name: Caroline R
Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old Whisky
Date: 13/03/01, updated on 13/03/01 (188 review reads)
Advantages: Superb taste
Disadvantages: Possibly an acquired taste
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.
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