Up until now i’ve only reviewed blended whiskies and today’s bottle of deliciousness will be the first single malt whisky to make an appearance and it comes from the legendary Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides of Scotland…a region best known for its disproportionately high number of distilleries and the unique peaty flavour of its single malts. I had the honour of being introduced to Bunnahabhain by none other than South Africa’s whisky maestro, Pierre Meintjes. His knowledge and insight was remarkable and added to his personality he’s the kind of guy you’d want around a braai telling stories about his 40 years in the whisky industry. He has possibly the best job ever.
Let’s get back to the whisky though because that’s why we’re here…to review the Bunnahabhain 12 year old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky. I can see you trying to pronounce the name…try saying it with Sean Connery’s accent, it helps.
Established in 1881 you can practically smell the history.
As with my previous reviews i’ll give you some background history on the whisky and then some thoughts on what it’s like. I’m still learning so don’t expect an expert review from an educated palate. I’ll call it like it is and the review is simply my 2 cents from a layman’s perspective. Use it , don’t use it.
The story behind Bunnahabhain 12 year old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky:
The first bit of bar ammo you can impress people with is the correct pronounciation of Bunnahabhain…it’s pronounced Bū-na-ha-venn ( yes with a ‘v’) and means mouth of the river in Scots Gaelic, referring to the Margadale River that flows close by. Islay is reknowned for producing whiskies that have a smokey character derived from malting barley over burning peat, but the Bunnahabhain is very lightly peated. 46.3% in strength (they don’t mess around) and it is un-chillfiltered with no added colouring.
What’s it taste like?
Nose: given the history of the distillery and the reputation of Islay being known for producing that unique peaty whisky i almost expected the initial aromas of Bunnahabhain to be overpoweringly smokey and medicinal, but was surprised that it’s hardly noticible. Instead the first impression was notes of sherry followed by sultanas and nuts…like the Christmas cake my mom used to make. There is a hint of salt, but the fruitiness sits above it.
Palate: As soon as it touches your lips the sherry flavours come through followed quickly by chocolate and nuts. It’s one of those where the initial taste is overwhelming with a mix of flavours that is hard to pin down. After several mouthfuls though you start noticing less sherry and more of the nuttiness followed by a touch of caramel and even some coffee.
Finish: smooth, but you feel it slowly making your way down the throat. Collecting the flavours from our mouth picks up the nutty flavours and i was left feeling like i just ate one of those dark chocolates filled with sherry liquor.
Appearance and price: love the vintage feel of the bottle..it has that historic feel to it steeped in Scottish heritage. As far as price goes it’s valued at R580 a bottle, but well worth it.
Overall score on the Life is Savage Whisky Index: The Bunnahabhain 12 year old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky gets an outstanding 9 out of 10. As much as i want to display it at the front of my whisky cabinet, i’ve hidden it at the back for safe keeping.
For more info check the website HERE.
GIVEAWAY: one lucky reader will drink away with a bottle of Bunnahabhain 12 year old Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky by answering the following question in the comments section.
Tell me in the comment section how to correctly pronounce Bunnahabhain and in what year it was founded
I’ll pick a winner in a week from today on the 29-10-2014.
Since it’s a alcohol there are some terms and conditions HERE. You must be an SA resident and old enough to drink…obviously.
UPDATE: winner has been chosen. Congrats Phil. Will be in touch.