So I just reviewed Bunnahabhain 30 (the original bottling), and that immediately questions the beg (that seems right), what if there was a single cask Bunnahabhain to compare and contrast to it? But who would have that?
Aha! You fell for one of the classic blunders! Being a writer’s strawman! Also maybe you got involved in a land war in Asia!
Yikes, that quote aged poorly now that I re-read it. Let’s move on, I’m reviewing Bunnahabhain 30 Hunter Laing Old & Rare, a whisky that popped up and was less expensive than the standard. Does that mean better? Worse? Let’s dive deeper.
This is a single cask whisky that has the same age as the standard. Thus it is without all the experience of working on Bunnahabhain solely and the additional casks to help it if a vatting is warranted. It’s a slightly higher alcohol content, is also from a sherry cask, and is from 1987 rather than the last which may have been from multiple dates. That all said, the Old & Rare line is their higher end releases. Presumably someone felt it was good enough to warrant that label.
Does that give us an idea if it’s better or worse? Let’s see, shall we?
Vintage: December 1987
Bottled: December 2017
Cask type: Sherry Butt
Number of bottles: 321
Colour: 7.5Y 9/6
Nose: Peach, molasses, light earth funk, gummy candy, lime zest
On the one hand, this is a lot similar to the other Bunnahabhain 30 with a light nose. There’s a tad more going on, but they are both about the same in terms of complexity.
Bit more char/smoke on this one, but it also noses a bit more artificial, so I’ll give it to the OB on the nose by a hair. Perhaps even a nose hair? No, that’s terrible, let’s move on.
Taste: Herbal caramel cake, lemon zest, cumin, gummy bears It’s herbal and caramel filled. Some acidity, some sharp sweet notes, and some earth/spice. I got the feeling, based on the initial interesting note, that the complexity would continue and leave me with something interesting.
Instead it’s just that one note, so… yeah, kinda simple.
Finish: Rich caramel, brine, mint, creamy hot sauce, button mushrooms, olive oil
Rich, salty, and earthy. Some cream, some heat, some interesting green notes. The finish feels the most like Bunnahabhain, given the brine and sprity notes mixed with the earth.
My favourite part. This is the closest we get to the standard OB Bunnahabhain 30 in terms of complexity and strong flavours.
Conclusion: Angels strike again! Very light nose, but very caramel rich. It’s the price it is for obvious reasons. Also this takes a long, long time to open up. Took extra time to see if I was missing something.
It’s very weird that the abv is the same as the Old Particular lineup. It’s weird to release a single cask like this under the Old & Rare line when, sure, it’s old, and maybe you could say rare, but it’s not wowing me to warrant the title.
Is it nice? Sure, better than nice given the finish and some of the complexity in the taste given the interesting cake notes. Are you finding something that’s better than the standard 30 OB? No, and that’s coming from me, Mr. I-Don’t-Review-A-Lot-of-OBs. So try a dram, it’s alright.
Scotch review #1592, Islay review #414, Whisky Network review #2318