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 !

Spirit of Islay Cask Samples

Back in the Whisky Good Ol’ Days ( When bottles were reasonably priced and had an age statement on – remember that – and Distillery Casks were reasonably priced…..) the people who were on the Spirit of Islay Yahoo Club (huh?) and Weekly chats ( well before Twitter tastings….) decided to buy first a Port Charlotte Hoggie then a Bruichladdich Bourbon Barrel . Now 14 years and 8 years on they are rapidly approaching bottling .

Up until March they resided at Laddie Distillery but we had to move them as Laddies shipping policy ( to the registered owners address only ) wasn’t favourable so given that the shareholders don’t all reside around me it was decided to move them somewhere that would be able to bottle and ship them to various countries . The obvious choice was Whiskybroker . So off we went today to meet up with Martin and get a sample from SOI 1 and II . It was only this time last year we were over to get a sample from the Longmorn cask and things have certainly progressed at Whiskybroker central ! Loads more racking , loads more  casks and a new super- duper bottling machine , Martin and Jane are certainly doing a cracking job in Creetown ! So onto the samples……

Spirit of Islay II Bruichladdich 2008

In an ex-Buffalo Trace 1st fill Bourbon Barrel , coming in at a whopping 64.2% ABV . Straw in Colour , since the last time i tried it it is now definitely a Laddie , for the ABV there is no burn on the nose , fresh green fruit , apples , pears , touch of the tropicals as well – Bananas , mango , pineapple . Vanilla custard , Lovely stuff !

The strength hits you on the palate , the fruit is there again covered in custard , quite a long finish but i need to try it with water…..

With Water the fruit explodes even more on the nose , it takes the burn off the palate and brings the flavours forward beautifully , actually noticing the Laddie fudge / toffee now  , it actually takes quite a bit of water . Have to say i’m very happy with how this cask has gone .

Spirit of Islay Port Charlotte 2002

In a (possibly 2nd , 3rd or 4th) Refill Sherry Hogshead , measuring a respectable 59.9% ABV . light Amber in colour , this has moved on so much since the last time i tried it (2014) , the colour now looks like a sherry cask matured whisky , the nose is amazing , still has the PC ash , Coal Smoke , a touch of seashore , there is a lot going on in the nose , really complex , too complex for my nose , where’s Serge when you need him……

Wow ! the palate is beautiful , nice and peaty , a touch of the fishermans friend , menthol , nice hint of lemon , again very complex with a lovely long finish . Water smooths the edges off , but i think i prefer it in it’s original state . Another excellent cask , as Serge once said to me i’ve been a luck B……. with casks and i have to agree !

 

Whiskybrokers site is HERE

A Few kindly donated Samples……

Some Samples kindly donated by Robert Banford and @raithrover…….

Royal Mile Whiskies 1990 23yo Jura 52.4%

To say i’m not a huge fan of Jura is a bit of an understatement (i can count on two fingers the one’s i have enjoyed……) , the initial nose is actually quite fruity , tarte apples and melons but there is an lingering smell of nail varnish / acetate which puts you off slightly . On the palate it is again fruity to start with but then becomes very ‘chemical’ , i would say from experience this hasn’t been in a very active cask , not a pleasant mouthfeel at all , the finish has the fruit / chemical mixture again with a touch of wood spices . This hasn’t done much to alter my opinion of Jura and certainly isn’t a patch on the best Jura i’ve had so far , the BBR 35yo . 

Whiskybroker 18yo Ben Nevis 53.7%

From a Hogshead (#852) that had new toasted ends fitted . On the nose you can smell the toastiness of the new ends straight away , there’s also a nice oranginess to it as well along with vanilla and lemon , a cracking nose . The palate is almost a light sherry (don’t think it was a sherry hoggie) , cake dough  , orange again and it is quite reminiscent of a Japanese whisky . the finish is long with light spices and a lovely sweetness (Honey and lemon) . An absolutely cracking dram ! (Additional info…. Dist –  11.06.1995 , Bott- 14.04.2015 , Outturn – 248) .

Whiskybroker 27yo Strathclyde 54.8%

You can’t whack a decent , well aged Grain whisky , this one is from Bourbon Barrel 62121 which produced 154 bottles . First thing on the nose is Digestive Biscuits , then vanilla , a small hint of varnish and Toffee Rice Crispies , maybe them crispies have Chocolate on the top as well , gorgeous nose . Smooth as a babies bum across the palate , bags of vanilla , again a touch of chocolate , the finish is interesting , long with pepper and a huge dollop of wood shavings ! Another excellent bottle from that young renegade Armstrong bloke , like i said you can’t whack a decent , well aged Grain ! (Additional info…. Dist –  09.06.1988 , Bott- 10.06.2015 )

Whiskybroker 18yo Clynelish 54.1% 

Have had a few Clynelish’s in my time  , this one comes with high recommendations , from a refill Hoggie (#11448) fitted with New Cask ends it produced 285 bottles . The nose is very fruity , ripe bananas , pineapple , apple turnover , a dollop of vanilla , honey and custard . The mouthfeel is incredibly oily , quite peppery , lots of fruit again , Banoffee pie ! The finish is very long , again peppery and spicy , apple pie with cinnamon . A truly outstanding Clynelish , if this was cricket it would be a 6 driven right over the main stand and out of the ground ! (Additional info…. Dist –  11.12.1996 , Bott- 30.01.2015 )

Bobby did send me two other samples but i’m not posting notes up as one (Exclusive Malts11yo Auchroisk) is the first malt i can remember spitting out (sulphured for one thing) when i tried it on Wednesday during the Daftmill chat, yes it was worse than the Jura above…. and the other a 13yo Craigellachie from the same bottler was the worst example i’ve had from that distillery, so i’m not going to taint my taste buds for a 2nd time.

Wild Buck Rye Whiskey 100% Proof

 

I’m a recent convert to Rye Whisky , so when @raithrover said he had a rye for me to try i naturally said yes please ! Raith picked this up on his recent travels in Florida , he likes to buy local produced Whiskies and this one is hand made in small batches at a small Distillery (they have a website HERE ) . On the nose it’s definitely Rye ! It does smell a tad young but it’s a nice spicy rye , bit like having rye bread in the glass . On the palate it is again spicy rye , a smooth youthfulness across the mouth , there isn’t a lot more you can say about the taste . The finish isn’t that long but is…… spicy rye . A pleasant enough Rye Whiskey but i have to say i prefer my Rye Canadian…….

 

 

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 .

Margadale-Bottles

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