Bunnahabhain 1997 Palo Cortado Finish (54.9%)

Before circling back to the Highland Park travel retail series, I wanted to celebrate my wife’s 50th birthday. I chose a special dram indeed, the Distell Limited Edition Malts Bunnahabhain 1997 Palo Cortado.

This is also an opportunity to toast the new upgrade that has started at the distillery. The upgrade will include the building of a proper visitor center along the shoreline. The center will include a coffee shop looking over the bay.

To facilitate the new visitor center, some warehouses have been moved off the shoreline. This includs the typically Islay “Bunnahabhain Distillery” stenciled warehouse. It’s worth noting that almost all the building material that was demolished will get reused, most of it at the distillery itself.

Bunnahabhain Distillery

Beside the new visitor center, the renovation is to build a new filling store, upgrade much needed infrasturcture and add six cottages where visitors can stay at the distillery. The total investment in the project by Distell is £10.5 million.

The Palo Cortado finish was matured for 19 years in “traditional oak” casks (which I’ll assume is good old ex bourbon casks), and then finished for almost two years in Palo Cortado sherry casks.


Bunnahabhain Palo Cortado

Photo Credit: thewhiskyexchange.com

Bunnahabhain 1997 Limited Release Palo Cortado Finish, 2000 Bottles (54.9% ABV, NCF, NC)

Appearance: Amber, with very thin legs and a lot of residue.

Nose: A little bit like old damp oak, pomegranate, a hint of some oily workspace, maybe a garage. Atypical farmy notes, with some minerals. After a bit, a working bakery wafts in with some bay rum cologne and a hint of sage. Is that a bit of banana bread? This is a Bunna that harks back to another era.

Palate: Ash and sweetness mix in a thick liquid. With no preparation by the nose, you’re hit with a peaty dryness that’s absolutely lovely. There’s a bit of saltiness on the palate.

Linger: The ash remains with a spicy and chalky feel. It’s dry with a sweet honey overlay, with starfruit that’s not quite fully ripened.


WOW! This is a complex and rewarding dram, with a lot to delve into as you enjoy it. Well done, Bunna!

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