It’s taken me a while to get round to Bunnahabhain, I've previously given it a miss with my attention has being drawn to the more peaty/smoky whiskies from elsewhere on Islay. But now, thankfully, I've got around to picking up a bottle.
And I'm glad I did as this stuff is very good. Three words came immediately to mind as I tried it – dry, spicy and full. As those words suggest it’s very tasty, almost savoury in a way. It has a sort of unsweet sherry flavour to it - by which I mean it has the fullness of flavour that sherried whisky has but without the sweetened taste.
There were oranges there too. But not like orange juice orange, this was more like opening a wooden crate that has whole oranges stored inside, but a crate that’s been at sea for a while. It has the promise of orange mingled with wood and salt. Also lurking in there was a touch of cigar and of leather. Very refined and very savoury.
This really strikes me as a very unique whisky. Very singular, a bit like Old Pulteney in the sense that it serves up something I've not really found elsewhere.
It looks wonderful in the glass too – dark caramel, it's the same colour as the singed top of a crème brulee.
It has a kind of dignified air about it. The packaging is not showy or shouty and I like that. The whisky generally is like the quiet guy that sits in the corner at a party rather than clamouring to be the centre of attention. But when you actually get around to speaking to them you find they actually have the most interesting things to say. Or maybe I'm getting carried away looking at the old fella on the bottle...
So, where was I? This is not a typical Islay, it’s not a typical anything. Pricing-wise it’s a slightly more expensive entry level bottle going for about £35. But it's worth picking up. For me personally getting this bottle was partly about completing an Islay set (i.e. a bottle from every (working) distillery on the island) but it's without doubt worth picking up on its own merits.