As you might expect, there is no shortage of whisky companies issuing bottles to commemorate the Queen’s 60th year, and with the industry enjoying considerable interest at the moment it’s equally unsurprising that several of these new releases head down the fancy box/crystal decanter route at the “ultra-premium” end of the market. Thankfully though, this landmark occasion is also soliciting more accessible bottlings than the likes of Diageo’s £100,000 1952 Johnnie Walker, with this more modest Bunnahabhain whisky from TheWhiskyBarrel certainly being one example worth checking out.
Bunnahabhain is well represented by the Independent Bottlers and just recently we have seen a raft of quite heavily sherried casks reaching the grubby hands of the masses. In fact this is the second of two such examples the good people of TheWhiskyBarrel.com have graced us with, and it’s clear from a mere glance that this second release is considerably lighter and less sherry influenced than the first. Speaking personally, this pleases me greatly as the Bunnahabhain spirit is more than capable of speaking for itself, and less cask influence also helps to avoid the strong sulphury notes that seem quite common in the darker examples.
Bunnahabhain 21 year old, Jubilee Malt II
1990 Sherry Cask #3, 54.5%abv, TheWhiskyBarrel.com exclusive.
An interestingly mixed first impression with some sharp, clean barley, dusty cereals, grapefruit and a touch of struck flint backed up by a certain coastal elegance, faint touches of hessian and a sweeter suggestion of pink icing sugar. The profile seems to continually shift between the bold, buttery cereals, the coastal side and further delicate notes of crisp green apple. After some time and water a more notable sweetness takes hold with lovely light honey, pineapple and contrasting whiffs of spent match.
A good translation of the nose but with the sweetness to the fore at first; candied grapefruit and the pink icing sugar with building mineral/briney notes of sea spray splashed limestone and those ever-present dusty cereals. After a few drops of water some delicately floral suggestions come forward with hints of Turkish delight, faint heather and pine.
Silky, with a lovely coating oiliness.
Short to medium length with some clean, gently sour yellow apple skins, pine needles, brine and buttery oils/baked grain. A little barley sugar sweetness appears in the length.
An enjoyable Bunna all round then and, when not rushed, one with a pleasing range and beguiling complexity. It takes some time to really get to know and is a little unapproachable in places but it really grows on you, rewarding those with patience and an appreciation of subtlety.
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