Thanks to /u/Catharticintent for this sample
This is a continuation of my ongoing series that I’m calling “Scotch Malts, Wife’s Selection”, in which my wife goes through my backlog of SMWS (Scotch Malt Whisky Society) samples that I haven’t reviewed yet, pours them blind, and then I review it blind.
Bunnahabhain. First off, it’s the first distillery you will screw up the name on. No matter what. And a good bartender will teach you how to say it. Luckily I’m not one of those (it’s Bunna-haab-han, at least that’s how I say it).
I recently, with this very dram, realized how odd Bunnahabhain can be. When I first tried the 12, I wasn’t too happy with it. The 18 was heaven and the 25 was somehow higher.
Then I tried more peated versions, single casks, super young ones, and everything in between. Different types of sherry, some with no sherry. And I’ve come to the conclusion that if Bunnahabhain was a Spiderman villain, it’d be the Chameleon.
Which is why I couldn’t figure out Bunnahabhain SMWS 10.83 “Incredibly Awesome!” for the life of me.
So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: Sold out
Date Distilled: December 2005
Age: 9 years
Cask Type: Refill barrel
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Brine, prosciutto, apricot, Chinese 5 spice
Initial nose is that peat and meat combination that slowly gets more and more stronger and then ends up with that wonderful anise/cinnamon/cassia bud/allspice blend that you search for after Vietnam ends.
That’s a Simpson’s reference.
Nice amount of fruit here. It’s complex and interesting, especially given the age.
Taste: Butterscotch, currant, oaked cider, pear, caramel, lime
The fruit comes out even more on the taste. Less spice, more of that vanilla element, and a lot more caramel elements.
Kinda surprises you. Gone is the brine, gone is the meat, and gone is the spice. They just left for milk and never came back.
Finish: Bacon, chocolate truffle, sea air, Soprassata, dry apple, caramel
Finish brings back in those salt, peat evolved meat, and chocolate notes. Seriously this finish is quite amazing. It’s taking those ideas on the nose that were hinted at, and runs with them.
Touchdown on the basket due to a homerun, all while not committing icing. That’s how sports work, right?
Conclusion: Honestly drinking this made me think it was an older Laphroaig. And looking back, I can see how I was confused, but I can also see how this follows ideas that are laid out by Bunnahabhain while also mirroring ideas of Laphroaig.
Or I’m just defending my inability to figure it all out, but hey, let’s go on the positive side.
So somehow the peat evolved quicker then normal, and gave us a meaty, chocolate element. It took the richness of Bunnahabhain and gave us caramel and lots of fruit. And then it combined that. I’m quite impressed.
The only downside is a slight reluctant nose that took awhile to get started.
Actually: Bunnahabhain SMWS 10.83 “Incredibly awesome”
Scotch review #804, Islay review #190, Whisky Network review #1314