In 2014 (and 2015), Bunnahabhain released two festival releases, one is the “normal” festival bottling and another is an older “exclusive” bottling, priced accordingly. This year, there is an 11 year old called Rubha A’ Mhail (pronounced ‘rooaval’) that was fully matured in Manzanilla sherry butts, and an 18 year old Moscatel finish, kept in Moscatel wine hogsheads for two full years, after maturing for 16 years in ex bourbon casks. There are 250 bottles of the 18 year old, and 1200 bottles of the Rubha A’ Mhail at 57.4%.
Last year’s festival featured two bottles as well: the Westering Home, a 17 year old matured in a Cognac cask and finished in a Sauternes cask, and the Dràm an Stiùreadair is a 10 year old matured for nine years in a standard cask, then finished in a Marsala wine cask. Dràm an Stiùreadair means the helmsman dram in Gaelic, and the name is actually fitting for this peated expression.
Bunnahabhain Dràm an Stiùreadair, Fèis Ìle 2014 Festival Bottling, 632 Bottles (56.7% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber with thin legs and a lot of residue.
Nose: Starts sweet and winey, then becomes peated. The wine comes back with a a lot of vanilla and sugared peanuts. The nose has a clear Bunnahabhain character with notes resembling sherry. Water brings out chocolate.
Palate: Peat without sweetness, very earthy, the spices come though with sweetness, red apples and other tart fruit follow.
Linger: Strong and mouth drying, tart on the tongue with a lot of peat in the mouth.
This is a fun dram, with the wine finish working very well with the peat.