I have reviewed quite a few Bunnahabhain expressions, and it was fitting to include the 12 year old in this series of entry level whiskys.
In truth, though, this is a higher quality whisky than the slew of the 10-12 year olds out there, not least due to the approach taken by owners Burn Stewart Distillers (owned by the South African Distell Group) and master blender Ian MacMillan to up the game for the basic expressions in all three of their distilleries (including Tobermory and Deanston) and present them at 46.3% ABV, un-chill filtered and non-colored.
In particular, the Bunnahabhain 12 is extra complex, as it is composed of 25% sherry matured whisky and 75% bourbon barrel matured whisky. This really is a great entry level (but not only) and is a dram you can come back to as an experienced drinker and enjoy repeatedly.
Bunnahabhain 12 (46.3% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Dark amber with thick and rather quick legs.
Nose: Honey, orange, molasses, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, malt, very light peaty smoke, some green fruit in the background. There are also notes of sherry, white bread and the soft and chewy fruit candy (the kind they call toffee in Israel, although it’s nothing like real toffee other than them both being chewy). Time in the glass strengthens the honey and the sherry.
Palate: Citrus, honey, light spices and light pipe tobacco like somkiness delivered in a full bodied mouth drying liquid.
Linger: The spices shine through on the linger with a residual dryness inside the cheeks with notes of honey and tannins in the mouth and across the tongue, warming and long with a residual sweetness.
This is, to me, one of those bottles you can always go back to. Complex and layered, it’s not really a beginner’s dram, but one that will hold your interest regardless of how advanced you are in your whisky journey. It’s also a whisky that delivers of the better value for money deals out there.
Tasted at Derech Hayayin, the Shaked (official importer of Burn Stewart Distillers) store chain.