Saturday, August 20, 2011

Whisky of the Month (August 2011): Bunnahabhain: Special Releases

For the continuation of this month's whisky of the month segment featuring Bunnahabhain, SGwhisky takes an interesting looking at this Islay distillery's Special Releases (and there have been quite a few!). Released from time to time, these whiskies may be extra aged, finished in special casks or just bottled to commemorate special occasions. For this segment though, SGwhisky will be highlighting 4 special expressions: the 16YO Manzanilla Finish, the 21YO Special Edition, the Bunnahabhain 30YO and the Bunnahabhain 35YO 125th Anniversary Edition. 

(Note: Photo credits to: Loch Fyne Whiskies, Nickolls and Perks, Whisky Intelligence)

Let's tackle these babies in order of age, starting with the 16YO Manzanilla finish

Name: Bunnahabhain 16YO Manzanilla Finish 
Distillery: Bunnahabhain (Islay)
Type: Single Malt Scotch
Age Statement: 16YO
No. of Bottles: 3792
Alc/Vol: 53.2%

For those unfamiliar with sherries, manzanilla sherry is a type of sherry produced in Cadiz, in the South of Spain. Manzanilla actually means Camomile in Spanish, the sherry getting this name due to the herbal, floral notes the sherry has that resemble Camomile Tea. Let's see how this one goes!

Nose: Vibrant and enjoyable nose. Notes of fruits like red apple and fragrant pear are matched with a light buttery note, hint of peat and pleasing saltiness. Hints of sweet white tea as well. Pleasant stuff! (22)

Taste/Palate: Big and full of flavour. Loads of peat (much more than the standard Bunnahabhains I have tried), and hints of Chinese herbal tea (notes of Ginseng, Luo Han Guo (which is a traditional Chinese herbal fruit called Siraitia grosvenorii)) hints of malt and honey as well (21)

Finish: Distinctly herbal again with more notes of Luo Han Guo and Pi Pa (commonly known as Loquats). Hints of strawberry Pastilles. (21) 

Overall: Interesting that it is so herbal. Maybe the idea of Manzanilla was playing on my mind but the herbs were distinctly oriental this time (21) 85/100

Found at: Quaich Bar

Let's move on to another interesting bottling, the Bunnahabhain 21YO

Name: Bunnahabhain 21YO
Distillery: Bunnahabhain (Islay)
Type: Single Malt Scotch
Age Statement: 21YO
Vintage: 1986
No. of Bottles: 512
Alc/Vol: 46.7%

This bottling was apparently bottled for the Feis Ile, or Islay Festival of Malt and Music, in 2008. Interesting how Singapore got some of this stock! Due to its rarity, it is very highly priced, more than the standard 25YO expression. Let's see if this baby lives up to the hype

Nose: Fruity and sweet with notes of strawberry sweets, maraschino cherries, lemon drops and a hint of saltiness. Clean and pleasant but quite simple (20)

Taste/Palate: Smoky and semi sweet entry with notes of cocoa and oak, this develops into a very fruity mid palate with loads of strawberries. The smoke continues rolling on with a hint of red fruit tea. (21)

Finish: Long and pleasant ending with notes of sweet fruits like grapes and mango. Creamy notes of vanilla and whipped cream bring up a very nice and decently complex end (22)

Overall: Overall, it is a good whisky but not that flashy. A great ending though (21) 84/100

Found at: Quaich Bar

Now let's get into the really expensive and exclusive zone with the two long aged Bunnahabhains in the Special Editions segment.

Name: Bunnahabhain 30YO XXX 
Distillery: Bunnahabhain (Islay)
Type: Single Malt Scotch
Age Statement: 30YO
Vintage: 1980
No. of Bottles: 357
Alc/Vol: 45.4%

Released in 2010 by the distillery, this special edition showcases the older and mature side of Bunnahabhain. Don't let your mind wonder with that very suggestive Triple X, it's just roman numerals!

Nose: Much more gentle than the 16YO and 21YO, with the predominant notes being fresh longan, fresh pear and smoke. A light hint of sherry and salt are present as well (21)

Taste/Palate: Initially very light and subtle, before the fruit comes in in force. Guava, unripe pear, preserved longans, pineapples, apples and a hint of mandarin. Some light peat comes in after that. Develops mid palate into notes of sweet Jasmine Green Tea. (22)

Finish: Pleasant sweetness with a very interesting light smokiness at the back. Orange juice, apples, and some white tea. Very pleasant and enjoyable (22)

Overall: A classy whisky that purrs rather than roars, perfect for a relaxing evening (21) 86/100

Found at: Quaich Bar

Last but not least, here is the Bunnahabhain 35YO, the oldest OB available for Bunnahabhain here in Singapore at the very least!

Name: Bunnahabhain 35YO 125th Anniversary
Distillery: Bunnahabhain (Islay)
Type: Single Malt Scotch
Age Statement: 35YO
Vintage: 1971
No. of Bottles: 750
Alc/Vol: 44.9%

Released in 2006 to mark the 125th anniversary of Bunnahabhain distillery, this expression has garnered rave reviews from the whisky world, this should be good!

Nose: As this was my 4th whisky in a short span, I was afraid I would get much, but I was wrong. Lovely tropical notes of watermelon, ripe bananas, over-ripe mangos, Rock melon and vanilla. Notes of Condensed milk, Banoffee pie. Brilliant (23)

Taste/Palate: Oaky entry which develops into a rich fruitiness. Light smoke and tea accompany the initially oak, before the fruity notes take over with notes of pears, watermelon, light mango, oranges and banana cream. Light spices like ginger, and some vanilla. Very sophisticated (22)

Finish: Long and lingering just like the 30YO. Pears, sweet oranges, and bananas continue. Pleasant stuff! (22)

Overall: A great overall package which excels in all senses. Definitely worth a try, though it won't come cheap! (22) 89/100

Found at: Quaich Bar

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