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.
Nose: Initially rather on the shy side – 10 minutes of resting unlocked much more aroma. Fresh gooey sherry rich with demerara sugar, strawberries and raspberries. Raisins and chocolate and a hint of balsamic sit alongside light ginger spicing and gentle minerality – wet slate. Water really amps up the berry fruit as well as adding stewed plums and licks of toffee.
Taste: A slightly syrupy arrival – akin to tinned fruit juices. A juxataposition of sugar and salt – reduced red berries and poached pears meet salinity and granite minerality. An interesting jumble. Milk chocolate, tobacco leaf, cinnamon and anise provide additional flavours. The addition of water brings out the cask influence – vanilla, oak and some fair astringency.
Finish: Medium in length, wet soils, scattered nuts and salt. Quite drying.
The short, but intense octave finish that this Bunnahabhain has undergone has introduced some exceedingly interesting elements – sugar vs. salt can certainly be a ‘thing’ and likewise, its refreshing to experience a PX influence that hasn’t over-ridden the underlying spirit character (which likewise is often a thing). That said, the nose on this example was exceptionally tight and there is certainly a sense of the PX cask and original ex-bourbon hogshead fighting each other with neither willing to completely submit.
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