Here’s my “quick take” graphic for Bunnahabhain 12. For more info about this format, and my rating system, see this post.
Bunnahabhain [boona-havn] is the only active Islay distillery that I had yet to sample. The distillery is owned by Burn Stewart, and my understanding is that this is the core single malt used in the Black Bottle blend. I guess I put them at the bottom of my Islay list because their standard, [virtually] unpeated offerings are not really in the Islay taste profile category. They do offer peated expressions. In fact, I have a sample of their “Moine” peated whisky from Feis Ile 2009 that I still need to try. I wanted to experience their standard product first, though. The Bunnahabhain 12 that I’m writing about here is the core expression for this distillery, and is bottled at 40%.
On the nose, I get honey sweetness and apples (sometimes cinnamon apples), but then some red [dried] fruits start to come out. Is this partially matured in sherry casks? Sometimes I get a whiff of black licorice, while at other times it comes across as malty. Finally, a little fresh wood at the end. I’m not picking up any peat or smoke on the nose. It’s not super complex, but I’m really enjoying this…I could sit with this dram for a while, just enjoying the aromas.
On the palate, it’s still fruity, with an average body that almost seems a little peaty/earthy, even though I couldn’t pick it up on the nose. It’s very easy on the palate, but could use more oomph, kind of like the Dalmore 12 I tried recently. No alcohol harshness whatsoever, though.
For the finish, the fruit and light peat die off very quickly, leaving just a maltiness on the tongue that sticks around for a medium duration. Sometimes I think there’s a hint of smoke on the finish, but maybe that’s just in my head. This is not a “smoky” dram. Still nothing offensive going on here. This goes down VERY easily.
Light and refreshing, this is yet another “dangerously drinkable” whisky. I quite enjoyed spending time with the nose, which was a nice surprise. Though the palate and finish are mild, the experience is very smooth and pleasant. I kept wanting to go back for more. You need the right mentality going in, though. If you’re in the mood for a classic, peaty Islay malt, this isn’t going to do it for you.
For me, I would rate this at 83/100, noting that it is very enjoyable and easy to drink, with an above average nose (for a light whisky). What a great whisky this is for a summer afternoon! If you value the palate/finish experience more than the nose, you’ll likely rate this a bit lower, and possibly even be disappointed. What can I say? I’m a “nose” man.
- Whisky for Everyone – Great information about the distillery, as well as some nice tasting notes. [Update]
- whisky-pages – A solid 3 out of 5 stars, they’re picking up a level of peat and smoke that I’m just not getting.
- WhiskyNotes.be – You palate/finish aficionados might relate a little more closely to this review than mine.
- WHISKYFUN.COM by Serge – A generous 84 points in this review of a 2006 bottling, but I see he lowered his score to 82 for the 2007 bottling, with the average Malt Maniacs Matrix score being 80 points.
- YouTube – Here’s a video from IslayScotchWhisky.