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.
Nose: Lively, fruity and classy. Rich toffee, raisins, coffee grounds, chocolate cake, tanned leather, furniture polish and wood sap. Yep, this is a sherried Bunna with some age under its belt. A smattering of red berries – both strawberries and raspberries are pronounced – and some sweet nuttiness, rather like almonds or marzipan. Some light minerality like a calm sea breeze and hints of cask influence in form of black pepper. Super inviting.
Taste: Great translations from nose through to palate. Rich sherried stuff is the order of the day here. Toffee and creamy fudge, dried fruits, raisins, dates and prunes alongside dark chocolate and a fair whack of polish/varnish. There’s some added complexity here from a light herbal grassiness – fresh cut lawns and dried hay. Cask spicing is present but well balanced – nutmeg and light black pepper.
Finish: Medium in length and still emphasising toffee alongside a shake of pepper.
Bunnahabhain 18 year old is a personal favourite – especially since the ABV was upped to 46.3%. It’s a great example of a sherry matured whisky with just the right level of sweet influence vs. cask bitterness. It’s still full of life and ripe red berry notes, but balances these against aged character and sherried richness. Lovely. I always have a bottle nearby.
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