Thanks to /u/Jolarbear for this sample.
When we, as a group, think of Islay whiskies, we think of smokey, beefy messes that muss up the hair of our friends and scream “manly burning things.” However that’s not always the case.
At one time there were two distilleries that made spirits on Islay that one would not call “giant heaps of fire.” No, Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain were known for different malts, with only a little bit of smoke.
Since then the Octomore range has become a thing, so lumping Bruichladdich into that pile seems a tad off. It is the peatiest malt at the moment.
So that leaves us with Bunnahabhain, that does still use peat, however in very small amounts (save for some special drams where it is increased just for those drams).
So that makes it interesting. A dram, from Islay, where the distillery is only open starting in Spring (for visitors), that doesn’t use as much peat. It’s like /u/Biomortis had one wish and the genie couldn’t create a hermaphrodite with 36DD breasts and a 9 inch penis.
Bunnahabhain 1978 Signatory Cask Strength is one such dram. Like most of the Bunnahabhain’s I order, it’s from Signatory. Because… I don’t know? I’m lucky I guess? Also it’s hard to get some of the OBs here in Canada, because we went to war with Islay a long time ago over the ownership of a sheep and haven’t let up yet (Citation Needed).
Anyway, let’s see how this dram that’s older than me tastes, shall we?
Price: N/A in Ontario
Cask #: 2853
Bottle Number: 126/427
Age: 28 years
Cask Type: Sherry Butt
Colour: 5YR 4/8
Nose: Saltwater taffy, lots of orange, grapefruit, cashew, violets, butter, passionfruit
The typical fruit and iodine mixture of Bunnahabhain is here, and I’m enjoying it. Also there’s this almost Lowland/Highland butter/fruit/floral mix that really creates an interesting taste.
It’s a little too orange-y for me though. Not the biggest fan of orange. Hope that goes away.
Taste: Orange, caramel, Sprite, ginger, peanut, peach, salty
Nope, more orange. Not as unbalanced here though. More nutty and salty. It’s nice to see that the dram isn’t overtaken by the sherry butt in this case. Tastes really nice, especially on a summer day.
Finish: Caramel, floral, cotton candy, grapefruit, cranberry, Cracker Jacks, orange chocolate cookies, mint
And we’re back to orange. And that set off a memory, which is a good thing. Or at least I’m going to make it a good thing.
See, when I was a kid, I was fatter than I am now. Not weight wise, just overall health wise. And I loved cookies. A lot. So my mom made these cookies one day, and they were a new recipe. So what I’d do was sneak into the kitchen, behind my mother’s back, and sneak a cookie, exiting through the dining room and eating as I go (disposing of the evidence).
Only this time it wasn’t just a chocolate chip cookie. It was an Orange Chocolate Chip cookie. And as you all know, kid’s have more bitter taste buds than sweet. So it tasted like hell. And thus created my hate of Orange Chocolate Cookies.
That all said, it fits here. Yes, it’s a little unbalanced, however I actually enjoy it. So thanks creators of this dram.
Conclusion: That was quite rambling, wasn’t it? Okay, quick conclusion time.
This is a well done malt. I’m scoring it lower because I don’t like Orange. That’s my bias. However it’s really well done, complex, and unique. I’d recommend buying a bottle. If you can.
Scotch review #315, Islay review #69, Whisky network review #467