Bottle Name: Bunnahabhain 2003 Pedro Ximenez Finish
ABV: 54.8% Distillery: Bunnahabhain Region: Islay
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.
Nose: Big sweetness as expected. Fruitiness here is almost entirely of the dried variety - figs, raisins, prunes and dates – these sit alongside rich chocolate cake, sticky toffee pudding and molasses. Toasted hazelnuts and walnuts along with leather and dusty wood provide some additional aromas beyond the almost bottomless fathom of sherry influence. After a little resting, some buttery biscuit notes alongside something a touch meaty – marmite perhaps (more on marmite in the conclusion). The addition of water adds some light ginger in to the mix and heightens the mustiness and dustiness of the wood.
Taste: Viscous, almost syrupy and with a of body on arrival. The sugar-obsessed love affair continues anew – this is almost like a liquid dessert. Toffee sauce, a slide of black forest gateaux, berry trifle. It’s after dinner stuff certainly. The palate has a bit more going on than the nose first revealed – nuttiness is merged with earthiness in the form of some damp sappy wood and moist soils. There’s more wood influence and spicing coming through now – ginger and tingly white pepper. Everything is very much as the nose implied – dried fruits, chocolate and sugars. Water adds a level of creaminess – sugars becoming more caramel, toffees becoming more fudge. It also unlocks some underlying maltiness.
Finish: Medium in length with a very nice level of dryness. Chocolate and delicate pepper still lingering.
Bunnahabhain 2003 Pedro Ximenez Finish is going to be a marmite dram. If you’ve got a (particularly) sweet tooth you’ll probably love this rich, intense liquid-pudding of a whisky. If you’re not big of sweetness, or, the ‘sherry-bomb’ style then stay well clear. To my palate, (and I do have a fair sweet tooth), this worked well – yes, it’s incredibly sweet, but it has become not saccharine, nor cloying. It’s really rather drinkable, even at 54.8% - though will take dilution quite well also. Despite a rigorous sherry maturation regime, the 2nd fill (presumably oloroso) and the 1st fill PX feel in step with each other – overall balance is pretty good and I did not detect even an ounce of sulphur here. This all said, with sherry on top of sherry, can you discern that this is from Bunnahabhain? – probably not. Tasty it is. Evocative it is not.
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