Monday, 18 February 2013

Whisky Discovery #306

Bunnahabhain 23 Year Old Master of Malt (46% abv D:20/10/89)
Islay Single Cask Single Malt Whisky
£74.95 70cl (only available from Master of Malt)
A 1989 vintage single cask Bunnahabhain from those chaps at Master of Malt
This twenty three year old Bunnahabhain is from Master of Malt's Single Cask series and was distilled on the 20th October 1989. Single cask Bunnahabhain whiskies apparently have a habit of being quite different from one another. This particular cask is like a whisky caricature of the Scottish moors, perfect for experiencing the Highlands and Islands from the comfort of your armchair. 

The cask itself was a refill hogshead which was drawn on the 28th November 2012, yielding just 253 numbered bottles.

Tasting Note by The Chaps at Master of Malt
Nose: Seaweed and a stormy coastline join salted caramel and damp moorland heather on the nose.
Palate: Faintly peated, with a soft creamy mouth-feel and notes of grapes and leather.
Finish: Long and heathery with notes of spinach, pepper and some peat smoke on the distant horizon.
Overall: Bunnahabhain doing what it does best, this dram is like tasting a windswept moor. Phenomenal.

So What Did We Think?

I initially wrote in my notebook 'a maritime nose' with seaweed on the beach, and then started getting the faint whisper of peat smoke. There were soft fruity notes underlying which reminded me of the recent tastings of two of the core range that I was introduced to at the Wine and Spirits Show last November (cracking little London show).

There was a definite peated note on the palate, yes only faintly but very much there. The soft fruity notes from the nose is there on the palate, sweet green grapes came to mind, and there is a herbal taste like lavender.

It finishes with some peppery spice and the whispering peat smoke returns, lingering for a long time. I really enjoyed this single cask Bunnahabhain, and love the light smoke over the sweet soft fruit. The empty glass does indeed smell of peated malt.

I was 'pulled up' on this last Sunday when tweeting about this one being peated. I was told that Bunnahabhain did not start producing peated whiskies until the late 90's. I checked with my copy of Malt Whisky Yearbook which seems to confirm this where it states: "For a long time Bunnahabhain has been one of the few Islay whiskies that have been unpeated, but since the late 1990's a peated version has also been produced"

I have a Signatory Vintage bottling of a 'heavily peated' Bunnahabhain on my shelf from 1997 which falls in line with this statement, but then I recall the recent Berry Bros & Rudd Tweet Tasting where another 1989 single cask Bunnahabhain was tasted, this too had 'peated' notes within the flurry of tweets received that evening. It would seem that there could well be some 'peated' whisky being produced before the official distillery records. If this wasn't a peated malt, perhaps these casks had held peated whisky previously, imparting a peaty notes to the spirit?

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