Bunnahabhain was founded in 1881 on the ruggest northeastern coast of the Isle of Islay. Robertson & Baxter in partnership with the Greenlees Brothers incorporated as ' Islay Distillery Company Ltd' and in 1887 became 'Highland Distillers' (a forerunner of Edrington Group). Bunnahabhain has always produced a lot of its whisky to be destined for blending. This includes some world famous blends such as Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and later, Black Bottle. The distillery (and Black Bottle brand) were bought by Burn Stewart in 2003 and are as of 2013 now owned by South African based Distell.

Distillery Bottlings

Posted 08 May 2018

We’ve had to wait quite some time for An Cladach – its been 9 months since this new travel retail bottling was first announced – whether the distillery or parent company Distell have had production issues, or whether the PR agency hit ‘go’ on the press release all too soon, who’s to say – but, regardless, it’s far from the best method for introducing a new expression into the increasingly busy (and often times odd) space that is global travel retail. Nevertheless, An Cladach is now looking like it’s finally ready to dock following a month of exclusivity at Frankfurt airport.

Posted 01 May 2018

Gaelic for ‘peat stack’ Cruach Mhona continues a recent Bunnahabhain trend for completely unpronounceable whisky names. Whilst in 2018, peated Bunna (often termed ‘Moine’ by the distillery itself) is a fairly regularly sight, back in 2010 when Cruach Mhona was first released, it was all a touch more tentative when it came to peating. Over the past 8 years, the volume of peated whisky released by the distillery has steadily increased, and bottlings such as Toiteach and Ceobanach have paved the way for a dual future for Bunnahabhain – unpeated still at its core, but with a healthy pipeline of smokier expressions.

Posted 01 August 2017

As of writing, Bunnahabhain is undergoing a large-scale £11m renovation effort. Wash Still no.1 has had a new Forsyths-made upper half installed, and there are plans to upgrade the distillery buildings and warehouses over the next three years. Whilst described in several places as 'scruffy' I have always found the distillery to exhibit an oddly appealing Victorian workhouse charm - you can read more about that here. In the meantime Bunnahabhain have a range of new and exciting release for us over the next few months to look forward to.

Posted 27 April 2017

Bunnahabhain is more commonly known for its lightly peated and unpeated expressions, but over the last few year's they've been experimenting with their 'moine'  ('peat' in Scots Gaelic) and have released a range of whiskies with more of a peaty kick. Today we're taking a look at one of these in the form of the fairly unpronounceable Toiteach ('toch-chach' I'm reliably told).

Posted 14 January 2019

Last summer Distell launched a series of six new limited edition ‘Malt Galley’ releases from their three Scotland-based distilleries – Two from Bunnahabhain, one from Deanston and three from Tobermory (two peated, one unpeated). The releases were designed to reflect each distillery’s house style whilst using sherry, brandy and red wine maturation to add ‘points of difference’. All six of the expressions have now seen the light of day (some came later in 2018 due to packing issues delaying their release), so today we’ll be closing our account of the series by checking out the limited edition red wine matured peated Bunnahabhain.

Posted 26 March 2021

The suspects are gathered in the ballroom. Each one of them with a secret to hide. Their flickering, beady eyes catch the attention of their fellow guests, giving away their sense of unease and a growing feeling of suspicion. None of them had left the manor that evening and therefore one of them had most certainly committed a murder most foul. The trench-coated detective stood to address the room…. Meanwhile in a living room somewhere in suburbia…”Wait. Yeah, I got it. The killer is left-handed. The handprint on the wall is from a right hand if you look at the direction of the thumb - and because the killer was leaning against the wall with their right hand, they shot their gun with their stronger hand – the left. It’s obviously the butler. Boom”.

Posted 03 November 2017

Bunnahabhain’s 12 year old was given a welcome makeover in 2010 with the ABV increased up to 46.3%, a move to non-chill filtration and natural colouring, and a new opaque smoked glass bottle design. Recently, the distillery has had a very subtle branding change (they’ve joined up the letters of Bunnahabhain) and introduced the new Stiureadair as, what’s described as a ‘partial replacement’ for the 12 year old – meaning a release of a similar style to ease some of the pressure that is presumably being currently made of their stocks sherry casks. Nevertheless, presently the 12 year old is still readily available.

Posted 27 June 2019

We saw a release of Bunna vs. brandy last year – through that was a peated (Moine) expression. For the 2019 Limited Releases we’re now treated to the unpeated variant - matured in refill ex-bourbon casks and then finished in French brandy butts. Bottled at 52.5% ABV and with an RRP of £90 – there’s a worldwide allocation of 2764 bottles.

Posted 27 June 2019

This limited edition Bunnahabhain was matured in refill ex-bourbon hogsheads until 2016 when it was re-racked into port pipes for a finishing period. The end result has been bottled with an ABV of 55.3% and an RRP of £90.

Posted 16 March 2018

The 2004 Moine Brandy Finish is a first for Bunnahabhain. Whilst the distillery has experimented with somewhat comparable casks in the past (cognac in the Taiwan exclusive ‘Frenchman’s Rocks’ for example), this is a maiden outing for brandy casks being used to finish their peated (‘Moine’) distillate. The release is a 13 year old whisky that has spent 10 years in ex-sherry butts before being finished in French brandy casks for three years. It is botted at 55.7% ABV and is a release of 6,000 bottles with an RRP of £80.

Posted 16 March 2018

The 2003 Pedro Ximenez Finish is a 14 year old whisky bottled at 54.8% ABV. It has spent 11 years in 2nd fill sherry butts before being transferred into 1st fill PX casks for 3 years of finishing. Sherry on top of sherry – you should be able to guess the direction this one is going in. It is a release of 5,000 bottles and has an RRP of £85.

Posted 03 November 2017

Similarly to the Bunnahabhain 12 year old, the 18 year old had its ABV upped to 46.3% and dropped the use of caramel colourant in 2010. Since this relaunch, the bottling has achieved wide-spread acclaim, though that has seen the price rise somewhat – from around £70 in 2016 to nearly to £100 as of writing. Nevertheless, that still remains in the same region as many 18 year olds from other distilleries.

Posted 22 October 2018

The 1997 Bunnahabhain is the most expensive of Distell’s 2018 limited releases. It’s also one of the last to reach the market. Packaging issues have been cited as delayed the release of this eagerly anticipated expression – fair enough – the nice box does look nice. It’s now starting to hit the shelves and with just 1620 bottles (with a mere 300 allocated to the UK market), it will no doubt sell out in double time.

Posted 03 November 2017

Bunnahabhain 25 year old is the pinnacle of the distillery’s core range. Already well regarded when it was bottled at 43% like the 12 and 18 year olds, it moved to a new regime of higher ABVs (46.3%), non-chill filtering and natural colouring in 2011. Hoorah. The bottling comes in a very solid alder wood box with hessian lining and brass latches – whilst we’re not here to champion packaging (liquid is our purview), it’s a suitably stylish container for a high-end expression.

Posted 27 June 2019

Bunnahabhain is spirit which I feel works at an impressively broad range of ages. Bright and fresh young, deep and austere old. Distilled back in 1988, this is from the latter category with three decades of maturation under its belt. Similarly aged to this year’s sought after Feis Ile release – though delivered with a marsala finish rather than champagne. The bottling strength is 47.4% ABV and the RRP has been set at £450.

Posted 05 August 2019

Unicorn (noun): something that is highly desirable but difficult to find or obtain: a mythical animal typically represented as a horse with a single straight horn projecting from its forehead (farts rainbows). There’s no set definition of what a unicorn whisky is - to many it’s simply a bottle that has become so expensive that save for a second mortgage or selling a kidney, the likelihood of obtaining one has now become very low. To others, it’s the rarity of it - the Malt Mills of this world - the never, (if ever) sighted. To me, it’s both more than that, and less than that. It's a milestone on my whisky journey. The completion of a side quest, but not the end of the story.

Independent Bottlings

A.D. Rattray

Posted 13 June 2018

This 15 year old Bunnahabhain was matured for over 14 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being subjected to an additional 5 months of finishing in a specially commissioned oloroso sherry Octave.

Posted 13 June 2018

This 15 year old Bunnahabhain was matured for over 14 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being subjected to an additional 5 months of finishing in a specially commissioned PX Sherry Octave.

Posted 13 June 2018

This 15 year old Bunnahabhain was matured for over 14 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being subjected to an additional 5 months of finishing in a specially commissioned Rioja Octave.

Posted 13 June 2018

This 15 year old Bunnahabhain was matured for over 14 years in an ex-bourbon cask before being subjected to an additional 5 months of finishing in a specially commissioned rum Octave.

Douglas Laing

Posted 15 August 2018

Douglas Laing’s XOP (Extra Old Particular) is described as the ‘big brother’ to the well-known Old Particular range from this independent bottler. The selection of single malts and single grains which make up this series of single cask bottlings are drawn from the company’s ‘family jewels’ – they’re invariably older, rarer and always worth keeping an eye out for in terms of a special treat. As with many independent bottlers, you’ll find that the prices for particularly aged-whiskies are much lower relative to original distillery bottlings - as such, they’re a good target for those looking for birth year whiskies – particularly if you’re getting a bit long in the tooth and were born in the 1970s.

Elixir Distillers

Posted 12 April 2019

The considerable differences in peat smoke type and intensity relative to their origins are fairly well documented. Islay peat is richer in phenolic compounds such as guaiacol, vanillins and nitrogens. Highland peat has a greater concentration of carbohydrates. These chemical variances are reflective of the landscapes where the peat has been extracted from – Islay: iodine packed sphagnum moss, washed by sea water and coastal air. The Highlands: larger numbers of wood-based deciduous plants offering syringol compounds from the lignins contained in plant matter. Complex stuff – well beyond my pay grade - and that’s without any consideration of Orkney, Campbeltown (or even further afield).

James MacArthur

Posted 16 August 2018

James MacArthur’s Fine Malt Selection ran from the early 1990’s all the way through to 2014 with some 343 separate bottlings (according to Whiskybase). The series covered a huge selection of Scottish distilleries – a fair of which are now permanently closed – including the unicorn distillery Malt Mill. MacArthur’s 10 year old Malt Mill  (the only bottling known in existence from this distillery) originated from a blender’s sample – as such, there are only four 50cl miniatures out there. One of them sold on Scotch Whisky Auctions earlier this year for £3,400 (plus fees).

Malts of Scotland

Posted 14 September 2017

Today marks a small landmark for The Dramble – our 100th tasting note. We’ve already had some real highs (Balvenie Tun 1401) and some incredible lows (Fujikai 10 year old) along our journey, but Danny and I would both like to take this opportunity to thank you for all the support you’ve given us since our launch back in April 2017. To celebrate our landmark tasting note, I’ve pulled out something old and interesting for today’s post – Bunnahabhain 1973 38 year old, bottled by Malts of Scotland.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

Posted 06 August 2020

Distilled in October 2013 this peated Bunnahabhain was initially matured for 5 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being transferred into a 2nd fill French oak barrique.

View on SMWS

Posted 01 July 2021

Ending this month’s outturn review is the second Bunna offering of the month. This heavily peated 10 has been matured in a 2nd fill oloroso hogshead in an ex-bourbon hogshead before being re-racked into a 2nd fill oloroso hogshead (turns out this movement was not indicated in the official outturn listing so I've updated here for accuracy).

View on SMWS



Posted 04 July 2019

Oily & Coastal Bunna – 6 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead and then two years in a heavily toasted, medium char hogshead. View on SMWS

Posted 30 November 2017

The monthly SMWS Bunnahabhain is a peated one this time. Distilled in February 2008 this whisky has spent its life in a refill ex-Bourbon barrel. One of 224 bottles. Lightly Peated profile.

Posted 09 November 2017

A Bunnahabhain that’s certainly ‘Moine’ given the dark green flavour profile colour. Distilled on 10th December 2007, this whisky spent 9 years in an ex-Bourbon hogshead and then was transferred to a 2nd fill toasted oak hogshead. Seeing as it’s still listed as 9 year old, it wasn’t in that toasted jobbie for very long. One of 253 bottles.

Posted 03 May 2018

Always good to see Bunnahabhain on the SMWS menu and this month’s outturn has two examples – we’re taking a look at the ‘moine’ version which has been matured for 9 years in a refill ex-bourbon barrel. Peated profile.

Posted 01 June 2018

We saw some excellent port cask Bunnahabhain last year with SMWS 10.118. This one was distilled two years later in 2008 and comes sans peat, but is similarly drawn from a 1st fill ex-port barrique and so has quite a pink hue to it. Oily & Coastal profile.

Posted 08 November 2018

The near-obligatory monthly Bunna. This one takes a different approach to the most recent bottlings, having been finished in a 1st fill ex-oloroso hogshead after 7 years in refill bourbon. Oily & coastal profile.

Posted 14 August 2017

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society (SMWS) underwent somewhat of a rebrand in time for their 35th Anniversary. Still keeping the distinctive green coloured bottles (they don’t want you judging by the colour of the liquid alone), the labelling introduced a colour-coded system of 12 unique flavour profiles which help to define the style of each dram based on its inherent aromas, flavours and regional characteristics. It’s both useful and attractive.

Posted 06 September 2018

All the recent SMWS bottlings from Bunna have fallen into either the Peated or Oily & Coastal Profiles, but not this one! A 10 year old matured in a refill ex-bourbon barrel. Spicy & Dry profile.

Posted 29 November 2018

10 year old Bunnahabhain moine drawn from a refill ex-bourbon hogshead. Heavily Peated profile.

Posted 31 October 2019

Over to Islay for a 10 year old Bunna that’s been matured for 9 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead and then finished for an additional year in a 1st fill moscatel hogshead.

View on SMWS

Posted 28 February 2019

Straight-forward refill ex-bourbon Bunnahabhain from 2007 – not much to go wrong there. View on SMWS

Posted 05 September 2019

11 year old Bunnahabhain matured in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

View on SMWS

Posted 14 November 2019

10 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead and finished in a 1st fill red wine barrique. Oh, and heavily peated - consider me interested.

View on SMWS

Posted 23 May 2019

Over to the North East coast of Islay for a 13 year old 2nd fill ex-bourbon Bunnahabhain.

Posted 01 July 2021

The first of two Bunnas in this month’s outturn. This Oily & Coastal edition has been aged for 13 years in a refill ex-bourbon hogshead.

View on SMWS

Posted 05 December 2019

Yet another full-term sherried offering this month – this time via a Bunnahabhain which has been maturing in a refill sherry butt since 2004.

View on SMWS

Signatory Vintage

Posted 24 June 2019

The name ‘Staoisha’ is derived from Loch Staoisha – some 2.7 miles SW of Bunnahabhain. The Loch has long provided with the distillery with cooling water - and in the past has been utilised as an alternative production water source. Quite when and where the Gaelic name was introduced as a moniker for Bunnahabhain’s external filling contracts seems unknown to all but those at the heart of those contracts. Irrespective, the term is now being used more frequently for independently bottled, young, peated Bunnahabhain spirit.

Skene Whisky

Posted 18 March 2021

Closing out our Skene Whisky trio is a vatting of two concurrently filled, peated Bunnahabhain hogsheads (#878 and #879). Distilled in 2013 and bottled at the end of 2020, 504 bottles were released and are still available via the Skene Whisky online shop for £42.

That Boutique-y Whisky Company

Posted 17 December 2020

Batch 22?! Wowzers. That’s quite the volume of Bunnahabhain. But then again, the distillery is one whose appeal and reach has grown substantially and whose production volume - Islay-whisky-wise - is only surpassed by that of Laphroaig and Caol Ila. There’s both a lot of Bunna and a lot of Bunna fans. This also plays out across our coverage on The Dramble – this being our 46th Bunnahabhain review. Wowzers. The distillate crosses my desk more frequently than most – and indeed, I count myself amount that fandom – though perhaps not quite as zealously as some.  

Posted 09 December 2018

Regularly readers will know I’m quite fond of Bunnahabhain. I find it to be a versatile spirit that can work just as well bottled young and crisp as bottled old and austere. Door number 8 of the 2018 Boutique-y Advent calendar presents an example of the former – Bunnahabhain 11 year old Batch 5.

Posted 15 December 2017

Master of Malt really are wonderful chaps – my Bunnahabhain was sadly missing in action from the Boutique-y Advent calendar (accidentally replaced with a duplicate of Saturday’s upcoming dram). A short conversation later, and here it is first thing this morning ready for tasting – thanks guys! This is the oldest Bunna from Boutique-y so far, coming in at 35 years of age – seemingly it wouldn’t have lasted too much longer in the cask as the ABV is right on the cusp at 40.2%.

The Whisky Barrel

Posted 08 April 2020

Much of my life, professional or otherwise is spend dealing with words. Over time you develop strong associations to certain words – look over the body of work of any whisky writer and you’ll be able to quickly distinguish common descriptors and go-to phraseology. These language hallmarks and constructions are what gives a writer their style, their personality on paper – and in terms of tasting notes - a sense of consistency (and hopefully also dependability). But, when you deal with words day-in, day-out you also develop some pretty strong opinions about the use of language. There are countless overused words within the whisky lexicon – there are also countless misunderstood words. But that doesn’t stop these being rolled out time and time again.

Wemyss Malts

Posted 10 February 2020

Whisky and expectations are inherently tied together. As a producer - freshly laid down new make spirit is all potential – a foundation upon which to build, a canvas on which to paint. Its prospects driven by both nature and nurture – and its eventual end point somewhat clouded in mystery until the finishing line of bottling is reached. Throughout the spirit’s long slumber expectation and anticipation are both present. Is the liquid destined for blending, or already earmarked for potential greatness as a single cask? Will it capably fulfil the requirements for either of these? What if it doesn’t? But similarly, as consumers, our journeys are also defined by our expectations – when we open a bottle will we find that familiar friend or unlock the demon of disappointment?

Whisky Baron

Posted 16 January 2020

The oldest bottling (at present) in the Whisky Baron’s Founder’s Collection is an unpeated Bunnahabhain that has spent 16 years in an ex-bourbon hogshead (#3186). 258 bottles have been produced at an ABV of 51% - they’ll set you back £150 on the nose from the Baron’s webshop.

Whisky Exchange

Posted 02 February 2021

Knowledge and enjoyment are all too easily confused. Within any pursuit there’s habitually an expectation that acquiring greater knowledge on a subject should, by implication lead to greater sense of gratification when experiencing it. The knowing and understanding of a thing providing a heightened ability to appreciate it. Whilst there are times that this is certainly the case – eureka moments – all to often the manifestation of knowledge vis-à-vis enjoyment can be little more than boorishness or snobbery. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.



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