The name ‘Staoisha’ is derived from Loch Staoisha – some 2.7 miles SW of Bunnahabhain. The Loch has long provided with the distillery with cooling water - and in the past has been utilised as an alternative production water source. Quite when and where the Gaelic name was introduced as a moniker for Bunnahabhain’s external filling contracts seems unknown to all but those at the heart of those contracts. Irrespective, the term is now being used more frequently for independently bottled, young, peated Bunnahabhain spirit.
This Staoisha was distilled back in 2014 and matured for 4 years in a hogshead (#10580) that has been decharred and then recharred to rejuvenate it. Bottled at 60.3% ABV and available for £53.95 from The Whisky Exchange.
Nose: Citric and coastal. Lemon drizzle cake and lemon soaked pancakes are joined by chiselled minerality from slate, granite and rock pools. White chocolate and batter mix are joined by light coal dusty, hay and gentle wood smoke. Reduction adds machine oil and iron filings alongside maltiness, preserved lemons and petrichor.
Taste: The arrival is rich and syrupy and delivers bright, but tart fruits – lemon, grapefruit and gooseberry. There’s plenty of natural sweetness with apple and pear juices alongside lime from a sugar-rimmed margarita. The mid-palate offers some Bunnahabhain Victorian workhouse charm with axle lubricant, engine grease and coal oil alongside kelp, surface cleaner and dusty nutmeg. Dilution expresses fruitiness with tinned apples, lemons and apricots – all rather juicy – alongside cask char and fireplace ashiness.
Finish: Short to medium and quite drying. Fading medicinal smoke with lemon peels and a touch of acrid burnt oak.
Tasted blind you’d peg this Bunnahabhain at least twice as old as it is. The complexity and depth for just 4/5 years of maturation is remarkable. Peat can hide a multitude of undercooked sins, but here, there’s no raw feintiness or copper contact to conceal – everything is super characterful, sharp and precise. It’s only in the finish where balance is lost and young oak takes central stage. Good stuff.