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.
Nose: Immediately quite expressive with buttered toast, burnt biscuits, meringue and marshmallows. Fruitiness favours stone fruits – peaches in particular, but also with some reduced/dried fruits – raisins and prunes. Everything is dusted with a fine layer of powdered sugar – this plays quite nicely with the underlying earthiness and mineral elements, which are present, but quite reduced from their original ex-bourbon origins. The addition of water introduces some toffee and caramel sweetness, making for a rounder, more unctuous nose.
Taste: Juicy sweet fruits with more of a tropical outlook - spit-roasted pineapple, guavas and unripe mangoes are joined by some souring lemons and limes. In the mid palate, raisins and prunes alongside espresso beans provide some additional deeper flavours. In the back palate, some cask influence comes out to play – vanilla and sappy oak alongside buttered toast and cream. Dilution adds some orange peels in to the mix, but also heightens the ex-bourbon cask influence with plenty more vanilla and oak.
Finish: Medium in length with vanilla, refined sugars and touches of minerality.
This Rum Octave finished Bunnahabhain ably marries the aromas and flavours of ex-bourbon maturation with tropical fruits and additional sugars from the rum cask. Whilst at times the two casks fight for attention, the addition of water gives the ex-bourbon the upper hand. Nevertheless, this is an interesting and tasty whisky and one of the very few ex-rum Bunnahabhains I’ve seen.