Bunnahabhain, the South African owned “other” Islay distillery, produces mostly unpeated whisky, yet has it’s own character due to the closeness to the distillation process and an affinity for long term maturation in special casks. At Bunnahabhain, they run the relatively large stills at only 47% of capacity, to increase copper contact and get more of a lighter spirit. It works, as the heavier, oily character of Islay is absent, being clearly coastal, but much lighter than the regular Islay whiskys.
It’s also worth noting that Bunnahabhain spirit is at the heart of the Black Bottle blended whisky, together with contributions from all other seven Islay distilleries.
Bunnahabhain 16 Year Old Manzanilla Cask Limited Edition of 3,792 (53.2% ABV, NCF, NC)
Color: Bronze, thick and very slow legs.
Nose: White raisins steeped in water, milk chocolate, oatmeal with brown sugar sprinkles, cooked fruit and watered down balsamic vinegar.
Palate: Balsamic vinegar notes are dominant, nutmeg, mildly sweet cut fruit, coriander and espresso coffee.
Linger: Long and sweetish with chili pepper sauce (like Tabasco) with tartness, the linger ends up with beer notes, which is also what you’ll find nosing your glass the next morning.
Overall, the Manzanilla Sherry is much tarter than both Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez, with balsamic vinegar a dominant note on the palate and in the finish. Personally, I’m in the sweeter sherry camp, and will generally stick to Oloroso and PX.
I thank Ran L. for sharing this dram with me!