Bunnahabhain lies around 8 miles north of Port Askaig on the Isle of Islay. The distillery is in an idealic, if remote location with incredible views across the sound of Islay to Jura. Built in 1881 by William Robertson and the Greenlees Bros., the distillery got round it’s inaccessible location by building a pier and utilising the sea for all their needs. Small puffer ships would bring supplies along with barley and fresh casks and take mature spirit away to the blenders back in Glasgow.
Bunnahabhain has always been a whisky destined mostly for blends like Black Bottle, The Famous Grouse and Cutty Sark and differs from it’s Islay neighbours in being predominantly unpeated, although peated expressions have become common in the last few years.
Like many distilleries producing for blends, casks of Bunnahabhain often find their way into the hands of independent bottlers and are released as limited, single cask expressions – some of which can be excellent.
The Creative Whisky Company is one such independent who, in this case, has bottled a 27 year old Bunnahabhain on behalf of The Good Spirits Co., a specialist retailer based in Glasgow. The Good Spirits Co. was founded in Glasgow in 2011. At that time my own interest in whisky was that of a fairly casual consumer, mostly content to make do with the options available in my local supermarket and pick up the odd book at some tourist spot or other. One of the catalysts for my interest in whisky becoming obsessive was a tasting in the Good Spirits back in February 2013 that featured 6 drams bottled by Berry Bros & Rudd. The lineup that night featured 4 single malts, a blended malt and a single grain. The sheer range of smell, flavour and texture on offer that night blew me away and showed me a whole new world of possibilities to explore.
4 years down the line and The Good Spirits Co are still doing what they do best, finding the best and most interesting spirits from all over the world and presenting them at a reasonable price. Take this Bunnahabhain for example, a 27 year old Islay malt retailing at £80 is really quite incredible value…
The Scores: About the Scoring…
Smell: 18.5 / 20. So much Fruit going on here… Apple, Pear, Pineapple, Melon and Grapes and then a touch of Malty Biscuit.
Taste: 19 / 20. Unbelievably light on the palate.. Pineapple Juice and White Wine with a touch of Malt, Oak and Spice.
Value for Money: 9.5 / 10. A 27 year old single malt for £80 is exceptional value. The Angel’s have been rather greedy with this over the years, leaving an ABV of just 40.8% but it has done little to dampen the character of this very fine dram.
Overall: 47 / 50. A light, crisp, summer dram that has to be tasted to be believed. I’m not sure what’s left of the distillery character, even when unpeated, I often still pick up a salty note of the sea in this Islay spirit but here it’s not so evident. In fact, I doubt Bunnahabhain would even have entered into my head as a possibility had I tasted this blind but that’s part of what makes it so special – it’s almost completely unlike anything I’ve ever tasted before. The folks at the Good Spirits Co have found a real gem here that’s a great example of what single cask, single malt whisky can be.