The 2004 Moine Brandy Finish is a first for Bunnahabhain. Whilst the distillery has experimented with somewhat comparable casks in the past (cognac in the Taiwan exclusive ‘Frenchman’s Rocks’ for example), this is a maiden outing for brandy casks being used to finish their peated (‘Moine’) distillate. The release is a 13 year old whisky that has spent 10 years in ex-sherry butts before being finished in French brandy casks for three years. It is botted at 55.7% ABV and is a release of 6,000 bottles with an RRP of £80.
Nose: Immediately coastal, but with some sweetness – candyfloss on a beach. Starting with tangy citrus peels, this get smoky quickly – a rather intoxicating melange of soot, ash, TCP, surface cleaner and burnt rubber tyres. It walks a very fine line between sweet smoke and dirty engine rooms – in short, it feels very Moine to me. Additional fruitiness develops in the glass after a short time – orchard fruits – these are joined by overt coastal influence – salinity, sea shells and rock pools. Also developing is an underlying bready and cerealness (not a word) – toast spread with burnt butter and cornflakes. A little dilution brings up rubberiness and salinity further – bicycle inner tyres and sea water.
Taste: A slightly oily and chewy arrival that has a lot of tangy citrus upfront (lemons and limes, peels and zest). This develops into orchard apples and pears and then swiftly moves to the dark side of the force with a wave of semi-coastal, semi-medicinal smoke. It’s 50% candyshop, 50% hospital. Smoked pear drops, candyfloss next to a bonfire, sugar water mixed with Dettol. In the mid and back palate some underlying minerality develops – rock pools and wet slate. The addition of water enhances the fruitiness and brings out some Bunna nutty elements – walnuts in particular.
Finish: Long. Very long in fact. Tangy and syrupy orchard fruits with demi-sweet surface cleaner and a really rather lovely progressively drying finish.
Bunnahabhain 2004 Moine Brandy Finish has oodles of big and bold flavour, but rather cleverly manages to present itself as more subtle than punchy. It rather feels like a hybrid of Port Charlotte CC:01 shaken up with a good slug of Ledaig - Sweet, candied, dirty peat mixed with the contents of a Pirelli factory. It all works exceptionally well offering balance and intrigue in equal measure, whilst still staying close to its distillery roots. Whilst I'm naturally more inclined toward unpeated Bunnahabain, I'm finding a lot of these recent Moine releases pretty compelling. This is no exception.
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