Bunnahabhain 30

You’re a tad lucky if you’re doing a Bunnahabhain multi-review and have an original bottling that isn’t a single cask in there. I know, totally relatable, but this is the point I’m at in my life so just go with it.

Years and years ago, when going out in public wasn’t scary and trips were something I desperately needed to stop the bad thoughts, I stopped at a bar that had Bunnahabhain 25, and was ecstatic. My normal haunts didn’t have it, and since I live in a province that would rather you shove firecrackers inside yourself rather than sell hard alcohol, buying it wasn’t an option. Also I didn’t know if I’d like it.

Suffice to say I enjoyed it, but it fell into the reason I keep coming back to Bunnahabhain: It wasn’t “great”. Very good? Yes, very good. But great? No.

So enter Bunnahabhain 30, a release with quite the price jump, a 5 year age jump, and also from ex-Sherry casks. Not something I typically have (barring this recent splurge of fun older samples) and an interesting release. As I review on a regular basis, original distillery bottlings (OB if ya nasty) aren’t usually on the docket, as I’ve either had them or they skipped my province due to its hatred of happiness.

But is this all hype and no payoff? Or is it the great whisky I’ve been hunting for, here to change me into an OB drinking fool (not for just buying OBs, just for buying too many)? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $1,100 CAD

Region: Islay

Cask type: Ex-Sherry Casks

Abv: 46.3%

Colour: 5Y 6/8

Nose: Nectarine/apple, cloves, butterscotch, oak, Sprite

Huh. Simpler nose at first. Spice, stone fruit, rich caramel/butter, and oak. Some light acidity with a bit of water/given some time.

I’m making the grouchy face while nosing this. We don’t like the grouchy face. Let’s move on.

Taste: Tart apple, creme caramel, sweet licorice, bread, mineral, cinnamon

So I’m paranoid. It’s just something you end up doing when you’re bullied growing up. Now I’m not so paranoid that I think that the glass in my hand is being switched out between nosing this and tasting it, but if that came true I wouldn’t be surprised.

Barring invisible stalkers messing with the whisky, the taste is immensely stronger and tastier than the nose. Strong acidic/stone fruit, big caramel, very sweet licorice (not the bad licorice, think paying extra for the black death candy), and more complex overall.

Now, if you have access to Glitterdust (which you should, spell slaps), then cast that before tasting to ensure no one is sneaking around all Hallow Man mode, but if you went martial class this time around be prepared for a much nicer taste than the nose.

Finish: Honeydew, dulce de leche, shiitake mushroom, cinnamon twist, baked apple

Very long. Holy damn that’s lovely richness, more yeast, more butter and caramel, richer apple flavour, and even some rich earth in there.

It’s rich, it’s long, and it’s full of flavour.

Conclusion: A metric ton of rich caramel. The nose doesn’t do this justice. It should be way, way better than it is. You gotta love rich notes to enjoy this. It’s the opposite of the 25, which had a great nose and not as great finish.

So what do you need to do? Buy both and mix them? No, god no, what are you doing?

There are people out there that will go looking for a 30-year-old whisky for someone’s 30th birthday and wonder if this is the purchase. If you like caramel and rich flavours, then the answer is yes. Granted only if you know they love Scotch because otherwise it may not be their thing.

Look, is it great? No, the nose is so simple that it’s going to turn people off enjoying the rest. But will you enjoy it if you end up with a dram? Yes, so I’d recommend getting a dram when you too are exploring the depths of Bunnahabhain releases (or whatever normal people do).

85/100

Scotch review #1591, Islay review #413, Whisky Network review #2317

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