Bunnahabhain 43 1975 Single Malts of Scotland Director’s Special

So at this point I’ve had two 40+ year-old Bunnahabhain and wow, I’ve been biassed: Only from Signatory? Really? Not really cool TOM, not really cool at all. We thought better of you, you early-aughts edgy humour drunk.

And as such, we’re moving onto Bunnahabhain 43 1975 Single Malts of Scotland Director’s Special. Many of you are like me, and had completely forgotten that Single Malts of Scotland had a higher end line. Why? Because we’re not dumb rich. Heck, I’m pretty sure the dumb rich don’t even keep track, what with a) being dumb and b) having to do other things to ensure they keep being rich. Or maybe they do, I don’t know, I just hope they taste good with a side of wasabi mayo.

Huh, a “eat the rich” joke in a series about very expensive whiskies, what am I doing with my life? Let’s move on and ignore my obvious tonal dissonance.

So yes, Single Malts of Scotland has an even higher level. I’d say more here, but they’ve opted to make it hard to find anything on these via Google. I did find quite a few older, expensive whiskies, so suffice to say Director’s Special is made up of very special whiskies.

So we have a 43-year-old single refill-bourbon hogshead that was distilled back in 1975 right until it was ready. Given the abv, I think “ready” here means “as low as we can go and still sell this as a whisky”, but I’m just a bitter monkey when I say that.

Regardless if I, the monkey, would be served as dessert or main course in a badly ageing Indiana Jones movie, we should see how others present 40+ year old Bunnahabhain, because… I mean, we’re here, right? May as well.

Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Price: £1,200

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1975

Number of bottles: 341

Cask type: Refill bourbon hogshead

Abv: 41.4%

Colour: 5Y 8/8

Nose: Spearmint, celeriac, bubblegum, almondine, honey house

Some complex grassiness, sweetness, nuttiness, oak, and floral. Similar to the last Bunnahabhain, I’m getting those springtime notes, and they keep coming on strong.

Very delicate. Not what you think of when you have a 40+ year old whisky. You expect something bombastic, and this is like when a dive bar has really, really good tarte tatin. You don’t expect Lucifer the chef to be a CIA trained chef.

Taste: Honey, turnip, beurre blanc, sandalwood, puffin egg candies, algae/swimming in a lake

More grassy/vegetal notes, along with some earth, but it gets richer and richer. Puffin egg candies are licorice with a rich chocolate. Not that shitty licorice either, I’m talking proper Nordic licorice. Think more brine, sweeter, stronger, and worth eating (who am I kidding, I love licorice, I even eat the bad ones).

Water really brings out that distinct vegetal algae note. Think like a petrichor note but stronger if you’ve never swam in a lake. Then maybe take some time and plan to swim in a lake, if you can afford to safely, cause… It’s fun.

Finish: Brown butter, woodworking, strawberry tart, pollen, peanut brittle

Nutty, slightly fruity, more butter, strong “sawdust in the air” note, and still very honey dominant.

Aka my bias is being played to. Hard.

Conclusion: Buttery, woody, earthy, amazing honey note. Delicate and complex. This is Bunnahabhain by way of Balvenie. It’s one of the few whiskies I’ve had that comes close to really good Balvenie when it goes full honey. I love full honey. Always go full honey.

Very complex. Insanely so. I started this process by saying I was looking for a great Bunnahabhain, and if this was the only one, then I had found it. Now some of you may not find this loud enough. It’s not Van Halen screaming at you, it’s late 90s Van rock that you could play around your mom and not be worried. But we’re talking about Lilith festival and that rocked and I’ll hear no arguments otherwise. Or maybe it’s Veruca Salt.

What I’m saying is you have to like very delicate, complex whiskies to enjoy this. You can’t drink this quickly, or you may as well go chug honey. Now, for different reasons, I have to stop writing and chug… uh…. Not honey.


Scotch review #1595, Islay review #417, Whisky Network review #2321

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