Bunnahabhain has always been high up on my favorite distilleries list, and the Bunnahabhain 12 (reviewed here) is one of the more complex entry level whiskies out there and my favorite go-to everyday drams.
In this expression, the distillery is using the allure of 100% sherry matured whisky, to take some of the pressure off the aged stock, to ensure that the 12 can remain on the market even through these challenging times for stock management. Officially priced at £38, it’s only £4 cheaper than the 12 year old, so clearly the intention was to create another option, get people to buy one of each, rather than try and move the market off the 12 year old.
As I mentioned, this is a NAS composed of first and refill sherry casks, with a lot of the sherry influence on the nose, and much less of it on the palate. This is no sweet sherry bomb, so don’t expect it, and don’t be fooled by the nose, as the palate is full of hefty spice and lovely bitterness.
Bunnahabhain Stiùireadair (46.3% NCF, NC)
Appearance: Copper, thin legs coming off a rather resistant ring, leaving a lot of droplets on the glass.
Nose: Dried fruit, floral honey, earthiness, brazil nuts, cinnamon, milk chocolate, chalky minerals.
Palate : Spicy and bitter, with an initial wave of red fruity sweetness, and with a malty, almost creamy, quality.
Linger: Dry spice, with pepper and cinnamon, pomelo peel bitterness. The spice lingers on the tongue and around the gullet, with a hint of espresso and dark chocolate.
A little less complex, and less sweet, than the 12 year old, this is definitely an expression that holds its own, assuming you enjoy the more bitter and spicy side of whisky. As such, it should hit the spot for anybody looking for a dram to enjoy a hearty, spicy dram, with a sherried nose. For me, it doesn’t beat out the 12 year old, but stands well on its own.