Bunnahabhain 15 2004 Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask

Thanks to my buddies for this dram.

So we’re at the end. And I’m both happy and sad. Sad because I seem to be out of Bunnahabhain to review until one kicks it all off again.

Speaking of which: Bunnahabhain 16 2004 Carn Mor Celebration of the Cask is what kicked off this particular set. I was at a Scotch tasting, and after having too much, this weird sum itch showed up.

So get this: Up to this point, the oldest peated Bunnahabhain I’ve had was 13-years-old. Now you might be saying “so what”, but other than those two distillery releases, they aren’t old. It doesn’t happen often, or at least it doesn’t happen in a way I can typically find it. So I’m drunk enough that I include people in the bottle picture, I realise this is kinda a big deal. Also my close friends are going to another province after the tasting. I’m going to be hungover tomorrow.

So in what I can only describe as a moment of pure muscle memory I request an extra two ounces to review. They agree in return for my cookies that won no awards (judges preferred cookies without brown sugar, can you believe that).

So why was this enough to raise my very drunk eyebrows and start me on finding more Bunnahabhains? It’s a heavily peated Bunnahabhain of 15 years aged solely in a sherry butt. I’ve now had 67 different Bunnahabhain, ones that cost many Canuck-bucks, and this is the oldest peated one.

There was an article I read that at one point people believed there was no reason to cellar Baco Noir. Since it’s a new grape, no one had tried and it tasted fine once bottled so why wait and potentially ruin it? However some people did start cellaring them, and after some time they started to see success and it changed people’s minds.

What if peated Bunnahabhain is the same? What if it’s too easily sold because peatheads will buy peat for their peat addiction? And who the hell do I think I am making the previous statement and not including myself in that thought?

It’s a theory (A WHISKY THEORY!), and it deserves to round out the end of this particular Bunnahabhain roundup. So let’s see, shall we?

Price: $170 CAD

Region: Islay

Peated? Yup, Peated

Cask type: Sherry Butt

Cask number: 3718

Distilled: 08/12/2004

Bottled: 06/01/2020

Number of bottles: 396

Abv: 53.8%

Colour: 10YR 6/8

Nose: Brine, white peach, raspberry, burnt embers, butter

Salt. I didn’t expect salt. Which makes me an extra in a bad Star Wars movie. Which is funny, because it’s Bunnahabhain, but somehow that goes out the door when someone says it’s peated.

Fruit pairs well with the amount of salt, there’s the obvious heat, and some fatty/buttery notes. It’s grown nicely. It’s unique in that the sherry has more impact. I’m looking over previous nose notes for peated Bunnahabhain and it’s close, though this has less raw smoke and more fat and fruit.

Taste: Swedish fish, beets, shiitake, anise, chipotle

Odd. Well maybe not. When you have what we used to call “penny candy” and what I assume is now called “No Cap 360 4K Bussin sugassy” or something, did you pair it with root vegetables and earthy fungus? Because that’s what this is and it’s odd.

The sharp sweetness mixed with the earth takes awhile to get used to. I don’t hate it, but wow that’s odd.

Finish: Honeydew, cocoa, black jujubes, earth/button mushroom

Less sweet and sugarly, still earthy and weird. The finish seems to be apologising for the taste while saying “but it’s not totally wrong” like your aunt after your racist uncle had one too many Coors Light while using the term “those people”.

But not as bad, in case you think I’m saying this whisky is somehow racist. Those are the Canadian, Israeli, American whiskies… probably a whole bunch of the other ones I’m forgetting.

Wait, fuck, I doubled down on the joke! Wait, that helps prove my point! Wait, no, whisky isn’t inherently racist. GAH! Just go to the conclusion.

Conclusion: Very earthy and anise forward whisky. Makes me wish that Bunnahabhain released more older peated whiskies to see where this lands. Lots of odd fruit notes that makes it odd to try, and gives it a compost flavour.

I think this would have been better with a different cask. Maybe not sherry because it ends up with some odd mixtures. I can’t hate it because it did both candy and earthy things very well. But it’s really weird to go through. It’s like they made a peated whisky to go the distance and got a really nice cask and both went in opposite directions at full speed.

Try this. It was bought in Edmonton (Alberta), but that was years ago. If you find an old peated Bunnahabhain, try a dram. It’ll be weird.


Scotch review #1599, Islay review #421, Whisky Network review #2325

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