Bunnahabhain 17 (Old Particular)

Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Bottled: 2014, Distilled: 1997
Age: 17 years old
Cask #: DL10584
Bottler: Douglas Laing
ABV: 48.4%
Cask: Refill Hogshead
More Info: WhiskyBase

Here’s the third in a set of three Old Particular whiskies from one of the great indy distillers, Douglas Laing. Each bottling of the series is from a single cask so number of bottles available are quite limited.

I find Bunnahabhain single casks to be a bit hit and miss. There’s usually some interesting perfumed aromas but they don’t always work for me so I’m hopeful this one’s a hit. Either way, it’ll be interesting!

Nose: Fairy washing up liquid? Quite musky (like a cologne), with a little bit of armpit smell, lemon peel, waxed leather, and coltsfoot rock.

Palate: Sweet, soapy sea-water. Halls Soother throat sweets. Bitter grapefruit and stewed black tea with a dash of muddy peat.

Finish: Salty Marmite and cold ashes.

Really unusual this one. Soapy and perfumed with a little sweet and salt thrown in for flavour. Definitely more a thinker, than a drinker.

Imagine yourself in an airport. You’ve got a cold so you had tea, throat sweets and a citrus-rich breakfast with Marmite on toast. You sneak off to the toilets for a cheeky fag and then wash your hands before checking out the perfume section of duty free.

Wow, you don’t often get whisky like this. I don’t know if I like it, but I like the journey it’s sent my tastebuds on and a good reminder of the adventure of drinking single cask expressions.

Bravo, Douglas Laing.

You can get samples (and bottles) of the Old Particular range from www.MasterOfMalt.com.

Bunnahabhain Ceòbanach

Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Bottled: 2014
ABV: 46.3%
Cask: Bourbon
Age: Limited Edition NAS
More Info: WhiskyBase

I’m a massive fan of Islay whisky.

For me, the style puts all other whiskies quietly in the corner – you get such strong characterful expressions out of distilleries on the island, the kind of whisky that makes you sit up and pay attention – a provoker, challenging you to react.

For this reason, I’ve always found Bunnahabhain to be something of an odd-one-out with its softly-spoken, mellow, and (largely) unpeated style.

It’s not often I try their releases, as I rarely see them in the shops. We stopped by the distillery when we were on Islay but their gates were closed, no signs of life. All-in-all, this leaves it the least explored of the region’s distilleries for me.

Ever eager for the new experience, I was lucky enough to win their competition for a sample of their latest limited edition, the Ceòbanach (Scots-Gaelic for ‘smoky mist’). I was a big fan of the last peated Bunnahabhain I tried, the very smoky ‘Toiteach’, so I’m looking forward to trying this more lightly-peated expression.

Let’s see what this dark-horse of the Hebrides can do to provoke a reaction…

Nose: No peat reek here! I get straw and sweet cedar wood, play-doh, muscovadao sugar, dessert wine, apple strudel and nutmeg.

Palate: Crème brûlée, lemon-curd, pear drops, black pepper, and green apple skin. The peat is in-evidence, giving the fruit flavours more zest and tingle.

Finish: More spices, earthy peat and antique wood flavours, with a touch of chestnut at the end.

There is definitely a flavour at the core of all Bunnahabhain whisky that reminds me of crème brûlée. It really has something very desserty and sweet-shoppy about it.

The Ceòbanach is sweet, light, and zesty with a quiver of peat-tang and a lot of fragrant, fruity, woody notes. It’s got subtlety and complexity to it, building a lot of aroma around a lightly-smoked core.

Good work, chaps. Get some more expressions like this in your regular line-up and I’m sure they’ll go down an absolute storm.