Another 23yo Bunnahabhain

After yesterdays 23yo Bunnahabhain i had a look in the Whisky cupboard and found i had several more Bunnahabhains from Whiskybroker including 3 of the same cask so it would be rude not to open one……

This one is a 1989 (Distilled 20/10/1989) bottled 8/3/2013 from Hogshead 5739 at 48.2% (310 Outturn). The nose is quite closed but the Bunnahabhain spirit pushes through , the Confectioners sugar is there , there’s also a nice spiciness to it , there was once a rumour flying around that in 1989 Bunna were playing about with the ppm levels , wonder if that affects the spiciness as i’ve had it before in another ’89 . On to the palate the spiciness comes to the fore , lots of wood spices , a nice vanilla , there’s a little fruitiness to it then  Apple Pie and Custard ! There’s a nice lingering finish with lots of spices . 

A lovely little Bunnahabhain subtly different to yesterdays bottling , Definitely an under-rated Distillery !

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4 years on…..

I haven’t been buying as much whisky i used to (apart from paying for the bottling of shares in Casks i have ) But Just last week a i was tempted by a one that appeared on Whiskybroker’s Website . It was a  14yo bottling of a Margadale cask from the same batch as from which came one of my Casks (this one ) , so one was order……

It arrived this very day and quite surprisingly there was another bottle in it , one which i seemed to have ordered in 2016 and somehow both myself andWhiskybroker seemed to have forgot about ! Well i definitely forgot about it…….  

(Click on photo to see full size)

I have to say i’m very fond of aged Bunnahabhain so couldn’t wait to open the 23yo and it didn’t disappoint ! At a Natural Cask Strength of 46.3% (Weird Eh ?) , The nose is a typical Bunna quite sweet (confectioners sugar) , Vanilla , honey and toffee . It is a very easy nose to delve into , probably the lowish ABV , The palate is as smooth as a babies bum , really velvety across the tongue , Again with a lovely sweetness , honey and toffee , the finish is long and sweet with a slight spiciness . Wow ! What A lovely Bunnahabhain and a veritable bargain  at (in 2016) £66.50 for a 23yo , especially considering the 25yo O.b. (also at 46.3%…..) goes for nearly 5 times that !

4 years on……..

A brief history….. Back in the time before the Whisky world exploded with stupidity and when the late great John Maclellan was still manager of Bunnahabhain , the distillery tinkered with peated malt , a few got to know about it through John’s Legendary Feis Ile Warehouse Tours The ‘Moine’ only saw light through a Feis Ile Bottling or two , oh and one of Tescos ’10yo Islay’ Releases……. and an un-named indy Islay release….. Unknown to us meer mortals casks had also been sold to other whisky producers , move on a few years to about 2010 when another whisky legend Oul Fella and then owner of Bladnoch Raymondo Armstrong while purchasing casks to sell on the Bladnoch forum came upon some ‘Margadale’ A.K.A. Peated Bunnahabhain and decided to let us lesser human beings buy shares in said casks . I got a share in No.70 . Without going into too much details things took a slight turn south when the distillery was sold but eventually Raymonds Son Martin came to our assistance and got the casks removed from the distillery and shifted to his wonderful facility at Creetown and bottled them for us through his whisky Company ‘Whiskybroker.co.uk.’ Ours was bottled at 10yo and now this one was done at 14yo . Same whisky , slightly different shaped bottle , nearly the same label design but 4 years on…….

So now the big question , what’s it like ?

Well there’s not that great deal of difference in the colour from cask 75 to cask 70 , There’s no real difference in the ABV either it’s only 1% lower at 58.2% , the nose has the distinct Bunna peatiness (not like any of the other Islays) it is very coastal / Seashorey with a nice whiff of smoke . The first thing that hits you on the palate is a sweetness (like the unpeated original) , then the peat flows , very smooth for a high ABV , again it’s more of a seashore , seaweed / iodine but not as fierce as Laphroaig , the finish is long and quite smoky , the perverbial bonfire on a beach . This would definitely have been the dram to sit outside the Bunnahabhain Cottages watching the sun go down over the Mountains on Mull…….Mull Sunset Cask 70 (the 10yo ) is definitely Cask 75’s younger , wilder brother ! It’s an interesting comparison , Wild at heart to smooth and Sophisticated . Glad i got a chance to contrast and compare , the 14yo is a cracking dram !

A Bank Holiday Weekend……

The Whitsun Bank Holiday (as it’s known in the UK) is the second long weekend in the Month of May , We decided to make the most of it and partake in a couple of trips…… 

Saturday 28th May

It’s been a few years since we’d seen the cask of Longmorn we have a share in , it ws in it’s first year the last time we seen it , it was then stored in Bladnoch when it was under the stewardship of Raymond , since then there’s been a change of ownership and a change of storage facility , it’s now in a warehouse at Creetown owned by Raymonds son Martin . It’s been over a year since we last saw Martin so we could kill two birds with one stone so to speak , Catch up with Martin and check up on the Cask ! Ok 3 birds , pick up some bottles off Martin……. We set off from Newcastle earlyish on the Saturday , Well earlyish for a Saturday Morning start…..

It was very overcast when we left Newcastle but by the time we’d reached Dumfries (after the obligitory Coffee and cake stop) the sun was out and made it a glorious drive along the lovely Galloway coast . Martins business has progressed since we last popped in , so has his family with the recent addition of a 3rd baby boy Ben ! Martin gave us a tour of the premises before taking us to the recently opened warehouse , it was only recently he got the documentation off HMRC to start using the warehousing and he’s been busy moving casks in . Our cask is currently stowed in the Traditional style , in a stow 3 casks high , he is moving towards the Racking way .

(Click on the photo to see full size version)

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We removed a sample and had a quick taster from the cask…….

bhw_001Longmorn 2012

4yo at 61.3% , from a Fresh Bourbon Barrel 

First thing that strikes you about the nose is the sheer fruitiness of it  , Very Longmorn like , there’s also a big dollop of vanilla and a slight lack of youthfulness ! For it’s strength it doesn’t wreak havoc with your nasal passages . A lot of fruitiness on the palate again, bags of spices but the palate does show it’s age , it’s still thoroughly drinkable . The finish is Long , fruity , spices . A drop of water calms the palate down a lot and brings the fruit further forward and reduces the youthfulness .

An amazing dram at 4yo , very , very enjoyable but still needs a few more years . heading the way of a 7yo Longmorn that I purchased from the SMWS many moons ago that was so damn go I bought multiples of it .  

Martin also  gave us a try of an 8yo Craigellachie from a refill sherry butt ( Very nice but still needs a bit more time imho ) before heading back to the office for a coffee , a bit more of a natter and to collect a couple of bottles……..

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Bunnahabhain 23yo

46.3% , 156 outturn , ripe straw in colour £66.50

A wonderfully intriguing nose , very relaxed (as you’d expect at 23yo) , the usual confectioners sugar along with a touch of exotic fruit , ripe banana , after a little while there’s a lovely butterscotch toffee note appears . Great nose , one of them you could sniff for ages . Lots of hot spices to start with on the palate , was expecting more of a sweetness to it but it actually reminds me of a 1980 Bunna I had bottled by BBR , not a standard tasting Bunna but very enjoyable .A medium finish with clove and spices.

An enjoyable Bunna but I said not a standard one palate wise . Didn’t try it with water as it’s perfectly ok at this strength .

Ben Nevis 18yo

53.5% 264 Outturn 1/10/1996 – 15/07/2015 Hogshead 1329 light gold in colour £45 at the time.

A Sweet nose , Marzipan very akin to Battenberg cake , Vanilla , there’s a touch of Christmas Cake even though it doesn’t say whether this is a Bourbon or a sherry Hoggie .
A Bit of a bizarre palate , Wood spices to start with , Lemon , quite a sharp citrus note , then a sweetness keeps bouncing in , again there is a hint of sherry . A Long finish with a mixture of Sweetness , Lemon and spices and again a sherriness .

A bit of a strange dram but thoroughly enjoyable.

After we bid farewell to Martin we headed back East to Newcastle .

You can find Martins Business at Whiskybroker.co.uk

Sunday 29th May

After a more leisurely start to the morning  , we headed up north into the wilds of Northumberland to once again visit Cragside in Rothbury . We decided to do a short Woodland Walk this afternoon , once again it was overcast when we left Newcastle but the sun had appeared by the time we arrived at Cragside . The walk took us up the back of the House……

bhw_003A quite steep walk to start with but it did give us a good view over Rothbury……

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We were hoping to catch a sight of an elusive Red Squirrel but got treat to a local Raptor…..

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off we go…..

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Bye !

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We actually had 4 Raptor sightings this day , 3 on the drive back to home . The walk back to the Visitor Centre gave us some good views over the Estate ,One of the estate cottages…

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Which looks over Tumbleton Lake…..

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and has baby lambs in the field in front of it…..

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After such an exhausting walk it was only right we treat ourselves to a National Trust Cream Scone and Coffee before heading back home !

3 Tasty Samples

It’s not often i buy samples but i wanted to try a few so i purchased 3 off the Master of Malt site….. 

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Douglas Laing Director’s Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn

Longmorn is my favourite Speysider , i’ve been keeping an eye out for a 25yo to add to my bundle of 25yo’s  i’m collecting for our 25th Wedding Anniversary in 2019 . From a refill Bourbon Hogshead distilled in April 1989 and Bottled in June 2014 at 54.2% , it is a pale straw colour in the glass . The nose is extremely fruity and fresh , almost the old Opal Fruits , very buttery and vanilla , quite spicy as well . A wonderful Nose ! The palate is peppery , also lots of oak spices , still lots of fruit but the spices dominate . The finish is quite long with a lovely pepperiness to it .

A Lovely Longmorn , good balance to it and a worthy addition to the “Silver 25” list !

Glenfarclas 25yo

I’ve always had a soft spot for Glenfarclas , it was the First Distlllery Melanie and myself ever did a tour in back in the 90’s , we’ve shared some great old Farclases from the SMWS so a 25yo wouldn’t go amiss on the “Silver 25” list . A very soft sherriness to the nose , the traditional Christmas Cake – cake dough , dried fruits , glace cherries – and a hint of Coffee . The Palate pretty much carries on from the nose with the addition of chocolate and Cola cube sweets , A very sweet medium finish to it .

A Lovely Glenfarclas , definitely a future one for the list…..

Caol Ila 1998 15yo Unpeated – 2014 Special Release

Coming in at a whopping 60.4% , i’ve been want to try this one for a while , i’ve had the 10yo , 12yo and Stitchells Reserve .

Pale Straw in colour , the initial nose is fresh green apples , VERY fresh green apples ! Touch of lemon and Malt . Wow ! This is an incredibly fruity little number after the Apple it bursts into a bulging bowl of fruit , Wonderful ! The fruit continues on the palate , excellent , highly drinkable at the full strength of 60.4% . Really Spicy as well , becomes very Apple Pie and Custard after a while , the spiciness continues into the finish . With a touch of water it certainly calms it down a touch but seems to take a bit of it’s bite away .

An excellent dram , the unpeated spirit seem to get better with age .

A purchase since……

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The “Silver 25” List Currently stands at 9 Bottles……

25s

  • Ardbeg Lord of the Isles
  • SMWS 1978 25yo Brora 61.20 (labelled 61.2)
  • Bunnahabhain 25yo O.b.
  • SMWS 1980 25yo Caol Ila 53.98
  • Bladnoch Forum 1984 25yo Caol Ila
  • Laphroaig 25yo O.b. 2013 Bottling
  • DL Directors Cut 1989 25yo Longmorn
  • Bladnoch Forum 25yo Port Ellen
  • The Wine Society 25yo Islay Single Malt

Bunnahabhain Margadale Cask 9000070

This is the 4th cask i’ve been involved in the bottling of (details of the other 3 can be found HERE ) , This one was bought via Raymond Armstrong while he was at Bladnoch and was sold to shareholders who frequented the Bladnoch Forum . Some of us knew each other which would turn out to be a bonus the way future events unfolded…….

Basically with just under a year of the 10 year maturation left the company that owned Bladnoch was taken into Voluntary Liquidation , We all thought that the Distillery would have been sold by the time we bottled but it wasn’t ! So after talking with the Shareholder i knew we decided to track down the remaining members with the help of the Worldwide Internet and Raymonds new Forum . Eventually on the 11th February 2015 we got the cask released to Martin (Raymond’s son) for his company , Whiskybroker.co.uk , to bottle….. later that same day !

Margadale

The Margadale is the peated spirit distilled by Bunnahabhain and called Moine by the Company , the peating level is believed to be 38 ppm (just a smidge below Lagavulin’s and Caol Ila’s level ) but Bunnahabhain has been known to peat at a lower level .

The Margadale was distilled on the 26th January 2005 during John Maclellan’s management , filled into an ex-Bourbon Barrel – by the outturn of 243 bottles it may have been a fresh one or very tight 2nd refill – it came out at 59.2% ABV .

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And now the nitty-gritty bit….. How does it taste ?

Pale straw in colour . It is incredibly smoky on the nose , and i mean SMOKY ! Very seashore , the proverbial ‘Bonfire on the beach’ , It has a slight sweetness to the nose and a creaminess , very reminiscent of a South Shore Islay starting with ‘A’ , then a damp peatiness . A very fiery palate , lots of white pepper ,  a fierce peatiness along with smoke , there’s a hint of the Bunnahabhain sweetness but not much , a touch of barley and there is a slight chewiness to it  . The finish long , peppery hot and peaty . It can take quite a bit of water which enhances the creaminess  and the seashore qualities and doesn’t affect the smoke . The empty glass smells wonderful even after only a few minutes .

I’m more than happy with this , i’d put this up against any other 10yo Peated Islay and if i had to say which it was in a blind tasting i’d go for the one at the Southern end of the A846…

And then there were 4……..

Four       

Two Berrys Own Bunnahabhains

At the recent Whisky Lounge Manchester Festival i was so wrapped up in serving Amrut i missed the chance to try two Berrys Own Bunnahabhains at their table ! Thankfully Rob (@BBRrob) Whitehead has kindly sent me a couple of samples to try .

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Rob at the Manchester Festival 

1987 Cask #2451 49.8%

A lovely golden colour in the glass , on the nose a slight hint of sherry (a refill sherry cask? ) , The Bunnahabhain Sweetness – Edinburgh Rock/ Confectioners sugar , Cola Cube sweets , dried fruits , Marzipan and Christmas Cake dough . The palate definitely hints at a Sherry cask ! Carrying on the flavours from the nose it adds a strong spiciness and a luxurious mouthfeel , the finish is long with spices , the Bunnahabhain sweetness and a hint of sherry .

Another cracking Bunnahabhain , not overly sherried just nicely balanced , i prefer my sherried whiskies this way from a refill rather than the fresh sherry bomb . Does not disappoint !

1989 Cask #5716 42.9%

This one is more of a ripe straw in colour , it does take a little while to open up , straight away on the nose you can tell it’s ex-bourbon , more of the spirit notes , the Bunnahabhain Sweetness (see above) , a touch of malt , digestive biscuits and lemon . The palate is very smooth , very malty , with a strong lemon citrus .The finish is long and loaded with sweetness  and the lemon again .

This one shows off the raw Bunnabhainess , i suspect it’s from a slightly inactive refill cask , it is actually a very nice dram and if you haven’t encountered unsherried Bunna maybe a good one to introduce you to this style from the distillery .

Many thanks again to Rob for the samples , which once again prove that Bunnahabhain is a very under-rated dram from Islay !  

Islay Visits Part XXXVII – A Tale of Two Distilleries…..

Tuesday 29th July 2014

It was a bit of an overcast morning when we emerged from the cottage , So after a rather late breakfast we decided to head up to a favourite spot of ours in the north-east of the Isle , Bunnahabhain . I love going up that part of the isle , the drive up the road makes you feel as though you are somewhere else , it was also quite sunny when we arrived there ! There was quite a lot going on around the distillery as they were transferring stock to new casks , mainly sherry butts by the looks of it , Long John was busy on the fork lift and there was bodies flying in and out of various warehouse doors ! We made our way up to the shop and were greeted by a very enthusiastic guide who no sooner were we in the door was offering us a dram and making pleasant conversation . Sorry i didn’t take her name but she did say you’d just started recently at the distillery and she is thoroughly enjoying her job , she was a lovely lass ! After a natter with Lillian we went for a bit of a walk along the pier , said hello to Long John and made our way back to “Other Places” .

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We had a drive up the Mulindry Road which these days is remarkably quiet , especially of pigs ! Once reaching the High Road we headed into Bowmore to pick up a few Post Cards and try out the new “Taste of Islay” Bistro in the former distillery warehouse  . We’d heard mixed reports about it but decided to give it a go , you can get anything from a Sandwich (£8) to various dishes ( from £8 for Seafood ) , tea , coffee , cakes , wine , whisky , beer….

We went for a couple of Cream Scones and a Tea and Coffee . Things didn’t get off to a good start when one of the paper menus we were given had the remains of someone elses meal on it and for some reason the Scones took a good 10-15mins to arrive after the drinks . The other thing that spoiled it was the fruit scones were hot and the Jam and cream just melted and rolled off it….. The scones weren’t a patch on the ones we had at The Bridgend Hotel last week and the bill came to £3.30 more than the same drinks and cakes we have at The Celtic House Coffee shop . I’ll let you draw your own conclusion……

To finish the afternoon off we popped into the Distillery Visitors Centre , where the reception was the exact opposite of the Bunnahabhain one ! Now before anyone thinks we’ve got a downer on the Bowmore Distillery , we love the place , done loads of tours here , have stayed at their wonderful Cottages quite a lot recently (they are well recommended!) , it’s just that the Customer Service at the VC could do with improving , it’s always nice to get a friendly greeting when you walk in the door or some kind of acknowledgement ! (and this is not a new thing)

Anyway we headed back to the Cottage for a tea of Islay Venison Burgers and a few drams to finish the night……..