Bunnahabhain has been part of the island’s (Islay) history since 1881, located in a village on the northeast coast of the isle of Islay, which is in the Argyll and Bute area of Scotland. Pronounced Bu-na-ha-venn, their whiskies are fondly well-known for their wonderfully gentle and warming taste, which differentiates them from other Islay whiskies. Bunnahabhain is quite distinct from the other Islay single malts – firstly, it is created using unpeated malted barley in a time-honoured distillation process and secondly, this isolated coastal sanctuary takes advantage of the pure spring water that flows freely underground away from the peaty moorlands. The 25-year-old expression was first added to the distillery’s core range in 2006. This Small Batch version was introduced in 2018 during a rebranding of the portfolio.
On the nose: is an intensive waft of sweet, rich mixed fruits (currants) and raisins, toffee apple and stewed fruits. These initial notes are followed by caramel, vanilla, hazelnuts, as well as some spices in the form of star anise. The nose is nicely finished-off with notes of marmalade, marzipan, a hint of lemon zest, maple syrup, a slight musky note and some green herbs. On the palate: those notes of raisins and currants are present, followed by caramel, marzipan and a creamy notes. There is a lovely gentle suggestion of sea salt in there, alongside notes of marmalade, cinnamon, star anise and cracked black pepper. Rounding-off the palate are notes of maple syrup, pecans and a slight leathery note. The finish: is long and sweet with currants and raisins, notes of hazelnuts and spicy oak linger on.
The verdict: I believe this is first time we’ve tried Bunnahabhain’s 25yo expression and we were definitely not disappointed. It’s so rich, with an absolutely moreish nose and palate that just keeps giving more. With an ABV of only 46.3%, in my humble opinion this is a dram that doesn’t require any water. Leaving it to breathe does release a few extra notes but also intensifies its spicy side.
Bunnahabhain 25 Year Old Single Malt Scotch Whisky is available online or in-store at well-stocked whisky shops, for approximately £370. For more information on this limited release expression, visit bunnahabhain.com.