Bunnahabhain 30 1989 The Kinship Collection 2020 Hunter Laing

What was the occasion: Bought a sample set. Drinking the entire set slowly, as I’ve had the luck of the Irish.

Well no, not that bad. I wasn’t subjugated for 100s of years and completely screwed economically and culturally, I merely had long Covid and broke my leg. So like 1/1,000th of the luck of the Irish. Probably lower.

Did writing that sentence make me feel better? Why is my brain like this? Whatever, I bought a high end sample set and I’m having fun, if slower than normal.

What whisky did we review? Bunnahabhain 30 The Kinship Collection 2020 Hunter Laing is the fourth release of the Kinship Collection from 2020. What’s that? We’ll get to it. For now, this is a late 80s single cask Bunnahabhain that was aged for 30 years and bottled at cask strength.

The Kinship Collection is a high-end collection that was released as part of Feis Ile 2020, the big jazz and whisky festival on Islay. It actually includes a non-Islay but we don’t talk about Bruno.

Hunter Laing is the company behind the Kinship Collection, and they release whiskies under different levels as an independent bottler.

What’s the distillery? Bunnahabhain is a workhorse distillery on Islay that sets itself apart by releasing “less-peated” whiskies as opposed to the rest of the island, which releases a ton of peated whiskies. Bunnahabhain also makes heavily peated whiskies.

You may be sitting there saying “wait, I’ve had Bunnahabhain, and it doesn’t taste peated” and that’s fair and okay. Your life experience is valid. You would describe the Bunnahabhain whiskies that most people drink as unpeated, but they have residual amounts of peat, so they are “technically” peated, but they are made as unpeated as you can get.

Is that all a technical way of talking in circles and getting to the idea that it’s from Islay but it makes unpeated whisky? Yes, welcome to the internet, we have fun things and pedantic assholes and rage and depression. Nothing else. Why yes, Ænima is playing in the background, why do you ask?

What’s my bias? I recently did a multi-review on Bunnahabhain. The idea behind these multi-reviews is that I have so many Bunnahabhain samples on me and I wanted to find an amazing Bunnahabhain. I had enjoyed some Bunnahabhains that I’d describe as “good”, but not great. That all changed months ago when I finally had a 45-year-old one from the 60s and I believe now they can be great, albeit in the extremes.

So I have some history, which is a way of saying I’m a judgemental prick of the distillery. But I also keep coming back to it.

When I finished the last review, I shared with other whisky nerds that I had drank “all old Bunnahabhain whiskies left to review in my house.” That was a lie, because I had one more left. So let’s get to it, shall we?

Price: $8K for all 6 bottles (CAD)

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1989

Bottled: 2020

Number of bottles: 451

Abv: 45.5%

Colour: 5Y 9/6

Nose: Diesel, dry pear, straw, butterscotch

Bit industrial, some fruit, some farm/straw notes, and butter and sugar. It’s a nice nose, reminds me of a riesling. Which is nice, I don’t mind the combination and think it works nicely.

Oh, but we’re drinking a 30-year-old whisky. There’s standards we expect. A bit more, if you will. There’s a price difference, a time difference, extra work, palms greased, bottles designed, auctions… yelled at? I lost the train of thought like I’m in Ohio, but what I’m saying is this is a bit basic for the stats.

Taste: Sand, brine, butterscotch, cloves, hard candy

Alright, this makes more sense. A bit. Lots of brine and butterscotch and a bit of spice. If the nose is a hot dog from a street vendor, this is a hot dog but at an American baseball park. Which is a lot better. Or I’m just craving hot dogs.

This doesn’t taste like hot dogs, just to be clear.

It’s sweet, briney, and creamy with spice. It grows on you.

Finish: Butter, dry pear, brown sugar, fennel, lemon, smoke

Oh. It’s the finish. That’s why this is here. A Susan Boyle type situation where the nose and taste make you wonder, then the finish breaks out into a ton of complexity.

I’m of two minds on that: If I can pick this up for a song, that’s okay. I’ve had good whiskies like this at younger ages or at a cheap price. On the other hand, price isn’t supposed to impact my scores, so can I get ahead of myself?

It’s a great finish, I’m just getting ahead of myself.

Conclusion: It’s alright, but I’ve had better Bunnahabhain whiskies of similar age/stats. I’ve also had slightly worse 30 plus Bunnahabhain. The finish will either change your mind or leave you wondering “is that it?”, much like the movie Interstellar.

Frankly it’s not an easy whisky to review. There’s nothing bad, per say. It’s tasty, the finish is impressive, and the taste does some cool shit with salt (wait… nah, fuck it, leaving it in, someone may giggle). That all should make you happy, right? Blind I’m happy with the score I gave this.

Which brings me back to where my bias came from on Bunnahabhain in the first place: I was poured a blind 39-year-old Bunnahabhain from Cadenhead (huge positive bias), thought it was alright, and started to look at the distillery closer.

Where am I going with this? This is an alright whisky. If you can buy a dram of it at a bar for an affordable price, then have some. That’s the recommendation.

But you’re not going to find it for cheap! Yes, the review and recommendation is done, I can talk turkey (that means price). If you buy this right now, it’s 360 Pound-a-roonies, not including tax ouchies (425 with tax in the UK). For that price, you should want more. There’s cheaper Bunnahabhain releases around this age that are better. Opt for them instead.


Scotch review #1628, Islay review #428, Whisky Network review #2356

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