ABV: 49.5% Distillery: Bunnahabhain Bottler: That Boutique-y Whisky Company Region: Islay
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.
Fans of the distillery have been well served by Boutique-y this year – for the particularly flush, both 26 and 37 year old have been recently released, and for the rest of us mere mortals two batches of 11 year old – batch 5 and batch 9. Both come at the same ABV of 49.5% and both cost £73.95. One wonders what difference there is between the two – presumably they’ve composed of a different composition of ex-bourbon barrels. Perhaps we’ll endeavour to review batch 9 in the future and note what differences it delivers – single cask and batch whiskies often vary greatly. For the time being though here’s Batch 5…
Nose: Immediately maritime with intense salinity and coastal qualities – hewn rocks, shingle beaches and steely wet piers. Toffee apples and dried apricots are supported by savoury salted roast peanuts, and sweetened by a healthy shake of powdered sugar. Reduction quickly lessens the perceptibility of salt, adding both pear juice and honey sweetness. Both work – though I’m naturally predisposed to prefer it in its former incarnation.
Taste: Coastalness continues – salted toffee, rock pools, wet limestone and chalk alongside apple sponge cake and salt crust pastry. There’s a tartness running throughout – part lemon, part grapefruit – it fits with the overall steeliness of the whisky rather well. Diluted, this again presents less salt, instead focussing on fudge, vanilla and a scattering of dried stone fruits.
Finish: Medium to long, quite dry and with lingering salinity.
Whilst this Bunnahabhain is straight-forward and unfussy, it’s also chiselled, precise and highly evocative of the location of the distillery. The spirit is leading the cask – as it should be – resulting in a whisky that’s both light and refreshing, but also concentrated and coastal. It’s more expensive than similarly aged examples (e.g. SMWS 10’s) but, on liquid quality alone scores well.
Review calendar provided by Boutique-y Whisky
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