Bunnahabhain 12 2003 The Ultimate

Thanks to ScotchGuy_TO  for sharing this dram.

“The Best Laid Plans of mice and men often go awry.”

I had a plan to review multiple Bunnahabhains again. I did one, and then due to a global supply chain issue, I was not able to review the others. So this review has been languishing, awaiting me to give in or whatnot. When our year-end tasting (in April) had another Bunnahbahain show up, and then there were extra delays, I read the writing on the wall.

Oh woah is me, I drank something out of order. Guess I’ll have to… I don’t know, sort my samples again to somehow feel like I’m not a total failure? Yeah, let’s do that.

Bunnahabhain 12 2003 The Ultimate is a single cask Scotch that was aged in a First Fill Sherry Butt, watered down, and sent on out. Now I’m not the biggest hunter of The Ultimate, as sometimes it’s less than Cask Strength. But we’re heading into the fourth once-in-a-lifetime economic downturn in my life, so perhaps I should stop being so picky.

It is still matured in a first fill sherry cask, after all. I should enjoy this. Let’s see, shall we?

Price: € 150

Region: Islay

Vintage: April 21, 2003

Bottled: February 26, 2016

Cask type: First Fill Sherry Butt

Cask Number: 1154

Number of bottles: 767

Abv: 46%

Colour: 5YR 6/10

Nose: Pixie stix, nectarine, honeydew, grassy/farmy, cherry

Very sweet. Not in that typical Bunnahabhain way where it’s brown sugar or rich. More like it’s mostly white sugar and some artificial flavouring. That’s the smell, I don’t actually believe it has that, but these days it’s best to state things plainly.

Good farminess, overall nice and fruity, though very sweet, and any richness comes later on, given time or water.

Taste: Peach, anise, peanut, caramel, oak

Some spice, some peach… yeah, the cask didn’t do quite a bit. It’s different though. Lighter, fruity, if a bit generic. But you know, generic whisky with some stronger anise notes. I’m not wowed, honestly.

Finish: Oak, sprite, honeydew melon, anise

Simpler finish. This was okay to sip on. Nothing is wowing me still, like the nose did. I feel like the cask didn’t add a lot. On the other hand I’m not annoyed with this.

Conclusion: It’s alright. Has some odd moments, takes Bunnahabhain in a different direction, feels less rich and more acidic. Which is alright. It’s good to pair this with something very fatty, like some ham.

I liked it a bit worse than the standard 12, however you gotta remember I enjoyed the richness and wood elements of the standard 12, and this only had that at the end. I don’t know, the taste just didn’t wow me enough. The nose? Great. Maybe they shouldn’t have watered this down. Oh well, maybe the next (who knows when the next Bunnahabhain will be) will be great.


Scotch review #1562, Islay review #402, Whisky Network review #2286

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