Bunnahabhain 42 1973 Signatory Vintage Rare Reserve – Cask Strength Collection

So we’re into the 40-year-old Bunnahbahains, and for those of you who are just showing up, I’ve been reviewing Bunnahabhain whiskies attempting to find a “great” one. I found it, it was the last one.

That mean we’re stopping? I mean, I could, but where’s the fun in that? So if the last one was a 40-year-old Bunnahabhain, then the next one is Bunnahabhain 42 1973 Signatory Vintage Rare Reserve – Cask Strength Collection. Yup, no 41-year-old Bunnahabhain to review, gonna drive me nuts too.

Moving on from maladaptive organising techniques, what does this mean? Well it’s 2-years-older than the last one, also released by Signatory, also cask strength, from a vintage 5-years-earlier, and also aged solely in a Refill Sherry Butt. We can come to the conclusion that this is similar to the last whisky I reviewed.

I loved the last whisky: If anything, the previous Bunnahabhain proved the curse only happens 1/60ish times, which most people wouldn’t bother with. Wait, no, most people don’t understand statistics… They’d take it and assume they are going to win something.

Perhaps 40 something Bunnahabhain picked by Signatory and aged in Refill Sherry is the key to making it great, and we’ll have to update the number to 2/61? Let’s see, shall we?

Price: $2,725 CAD

Region: Islay

Vintage: December 16, 1973

Bottled: January 11, 2016

Cask type: Refill Sherry Butt

Cask number: 12145

Number of bottles: 427

Abv: 47.9%

Colour: 5Y 8/6

Nose: Honey & peaches, licorice, sugared basil, cotton, mineral

Floral, stone fruit, some light spice/herbal elements, and warmed sugar notes. Water balances it with more vegetal/soft notes.

Very different from the last whisky. Whereas the last one felt like it was leaning on the sherry hard while still giving you lovely flavour combinations, this gives you lighter Speyside vibes. Specifically Balvenie vibes, with the floral, vegetal, and sweet elements.

That said, there’s less honey here and more grass notes over Balvenie. I should mention I do love honey quite a bit, so Balvenie (the whisky) is right up my alley. Balvenie (the pricing) hurts though.

Taste: Gummy worms, roasted fennel, lemon meringue pie, pollen, honeydew

Light notes, lots of sugar, some strong bitter elements that balance it all out, and nice acidity. It’s funny because this is tasting like a high end Speyside, and it’s a high-end Islay.

Creamy too. It’s like a magician hat in that you keep pulling more and more out of it. I sure hope that turn of phrase comes back to haunt me…

Finish: Lemon zest, cloves, roasted fennel, oak/earth, mineral, cantaloupe

Wow what a flat, sad, quick finish. Sure, there’s elements from before but it goes by so quickly that Warner Brothers called me up and asked if I needed a dust cloud animated.

Not to mention the balance is off. What little sweetness is here is trying really hard, and being buried in a ton of bitter/char notes. Very sad.

Conclusion: A rich, interesting whisky that has elements that go from floral to fruitiness and then has a sad finish that it’ll need therapy for. It’s a really odd whisky, because it fully starts out living up to the hype. It’s floral and fruity and shows signs of whiskies that cost a lot of money and live up to the costs, which usually does not happen.

But… Wow did that finish not do it for me. I don’t know, maybe it’s me, maybe I was loving other aspects or maybe I’m just mean or maybe the finish is for someone other than me. At one time I was dubbed the “bitter brother” due to not enjoying bitter flavours as much.

If that’s you, this is still worth it. If that’s not you, then I’d try a dram first. Or hunt down the previous one, as I liked it more and don’t think any group would prefer this one more. Maybe.


Scotch review #1594, Islay review #416, Whisky Network review #2320

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