No beating around the bush.
I adore this whisky. Where the old Bunna 18 seemed somehow flat and lifeless, this is vibrant and sparkling. It is not only incredibly relevant, but a welcome addition to the Islay malt stable, something I think Bunnahabhain has struggled with in recent years. Most whisky drinkers, when asked about Islay malts, will wax poetic about Ardbeg, Laphroaig or Lagavulin. Others may think of the rebellious Bruichladdich or fledgling Kilchoman. Not many immediately think of Bunnahabhain, the island’s most lightly-peated offering.
Bunnahabhain has never been bad, it has simply been overshadowed and under-hyped. My personal approach to Bunna was that if I was going to spend money on an unpeated (or lightly peated) whisky, there were far better ‘bang-for-your-buck’ drams on the market. Bunna has kicked that approach out the window with its recent facelift.
Here is the 18 year old expression, non-chill-filtered, and bottled at a perfectly suited 46.3% abv.
Though I believe all whiskies should be served up in this manner, it holds particularly true for the older vintages, which need the oomph of a higher alcohol content to let all of those sexy flavor notes and subtle complexities carry a little more heft. Bunna 18 is a prime example of this theory. Older than it’s years and just starting to show that waxy age, this is a malt that is unquestionably Islay, but unmistakeably unique.
The nose is smoke and sherry. Ashy peat. Pear and sweet banana cream. Some sort of orchard fruit. Honey and vanilla. Stunning interplay at work here.
Wow, what a mouthful. You can feel the oily tentacles exploring every oral crevice. This is a gooey, chewy malt full of smoke, sherried honey oak and a complex tapestry of spritely fruits. This is maturity and youthful zest in perfect harmony. Kinda like a mix tape (showing my age here) with the odd classic sprinkled in amongst a hatful of new indie bands.
The finish is thick and solid and lingers. Lovely.
There is something quirky and odd about this one. Something akin to a distinguished old man wandering the halls of a nursing home with his ass hanging out the back of his dressing gown. Bearing both age and zip, this Lazarus act is one of the whisky sphere’s greatest miracles in recent years.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt