Showing posts with label Bunnahabhain 12. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bunnahabhain 12. Show all posts

Bunnahabhain 12 Years Review

“A Taste of Bitter Love"

Country: Scotland
Region: Islay
Brand: Bunnahabhain
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: 12 Years
ABV: 46.3% 
Chill-Filtration: No
Whisky Review # 592
Buying Advice: ­čśÉ  Neutral. The Price-Quality ratio is good. Personally I would have liked it better without some of the Dirty and Bitter notes.

Colour: Dark Amber (Natural Colour)

Nose: Relatively Light with some clear Ex-Sherry Cask presence. The hints of Wet Clay and Campfire Smoke are there but they are very mild and remain in the background. I detect some light Sulphur but it's not aggressive. On the Nose the Bunnahabhain 12 is mainly Sweet but not overly so. I also find some lightly Acid, Mineral and Metallic tones. My main impressions though are Toasted Grain, Dried Fruit (Plums, Figs, Sultanas), Caramel, Brown Sugar, Butterscotch, light Honey, light Oak, Orchard Fruit (Apples, Pears), Dark Berries, Coconut, Cocoa Powder, Salted Nuts, Straw mixed with Cow Manure, light Orange, Bourbon (Cinnamon), Clove, Salt, Mint and hints of Mango-Flavoured Tea and Leather. The Alcohol is not fully integrated. I wouldn't call this a very Well-Balanced Nose but it's quite interesting nevertheless.
Palate: Mainly Sweet and Medium-Spicy with Toasted Cereals, Dried Fruit (Figs, Plums, Sultanas), Salted Hazelnuts, Charred Oak, Vanilla, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Butterscotch, light Orange/Mandarin, Berries, Mango, Cocoa Powder, Cinnamon, Pepper, Cardamom, Mint and light Licorice. I get a bit of Sulphur but it's not aggressive. Some Mineral notes as well. Very mild Campfire Smoke and Earth in the background. Hints of Leather and Tobacco.     

Finish: Middle-Long, Salty, Yeasty and Sweet. Dry towards the end with some Metallic notes  and a slightly unpleasant Bitterness. This is easily the worst part of this Bunnahabhain. I find lightly Toasted Cereals, Dirty Sherry, Dried Fruit (Figs, Plums, Sultanas), Nuts, Butterscotch, Bitter Espresso, Charred Oak, Cocoa Powder, Vanilla, Cinnamon, light Pepper, Cardamom and mere hints of Campfire Smoke and Leather.

I added a little Water and the Nose Becomes more Malty with a light Vegetable note that reminds me of Jura. More Vanilla on the Palate. You also get rid of most of the Bitterness in the Finish. You can certainly experiment with a little Water here.  

Rating: 84

Nose: 21.5 - Taste: 21.5 - Finish: 20 - Overall: 21

General Remarks:

The Bunnahabhain Distillery was founded in 1881 by William Robertson and the Greenless brothers William and James. It is located close to Port Askay on the island of Islay. Production started in 1883. In 2003, the distillery was bought by Burn Stewart Distillers. The core range includes the 12, 18 and 25 Years as well as two peated Malts, the 10 Year old Toiteach and the NAS Ceobanach.

The 12 Years old received a face lift in the summer of 2010. The ABV increased to 46.3% and the Spirit is no longer Chill-Filtered nor does it receive artificial colouring. Great initiative by Bunnahabhain! The 12 years matures in a mix of Ex-Bourbon casks (around 75%) and Ex-Sherry casks (around 25%). It is not over the top expensive at an average 50 US Dollars (January 2017). 

Drinking Experience Neat: Good except for the Bitterness in the Finish.

Conclusion: Although the distillery launched some peated Whiskies again in the last couple of years, Bunnahabhain is mostly known as the unpeated or very lightly peated Islay Malt. The 12 Years is no exception. Peat and Smoke are extremely mild and merely form a back-up for the other Flavours and Aromas. Unfortunately I have never tasted the "old" Bunnahabhain 12 that was Chill-Filtered, Coloured and bottled at 40%. Therefore I can't make a comparison. I must congratulate Bunnahabhain on the initiative to relaunch the new 12 Years with all the extras without increasing the final price of the product too much. I do feel however that it's probably increasingly difficult and/or expensive to buy quality Ex-Sherry casks. Otherwise it's difficult to explain the dirty notes like Sulphur and Manure as well as the slightly unpleasant Bitterness in the Finish. If not for these points I would have scored this Bunnahabhain a little higher. The Price Quality ratio of this Single Malt is good. But taste-wise I personally prefer the before mentioned peated Toiteach over this new 12 Years. 

Jan van den Ende                                                                 January 30, 2017

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