The Bunnahabhain 40yo in a one-off release of 750 individually numbered, hand signed bottles presented in bespoke packaging.
Bunnahabhain 40 year old.
Very old whisky normally goes one of two ways: it either becomes fragile and delicate like a very old man, with wispy grapefruit or citrus fruit notes and a short finish. The strength will have come down worryingly close to the minimum limit of 40% and you risk ruining your expensive purchase with even the tiniest amount of the water because the structure of the malt can collapse altogether.
Or it goes the other way. Big, such, heavy sherry notes and a whisky which does a very good impression of a Catholic church on Easter Sunday morning: floral notes, fresh polish, musty dusty oak pews, some incense in the air; all very nice but if you’ve tried one then, frankly, you’ve tried them all. I know how spoiled that sounds – please don’t stop sending me the samples.
There’s also a lot of average whisky going in to highly expensive packaging as some distilleries seem to be bent on taking any old battered and beaten whisky, wrapping it up in the finest livery and flogging it to the Taiwanese at astronomically inflated prices.
Which is what makes this whisky so special.
Bunnahabhain 40 year old takes a middle path between these two extreme and as a result it’s great. There are sweet citrus and delicate notes there alright, and the spice and astringency is in the picture but there’s a balance between the two sides of the malt that is a revelation.
Here are my notes: By Dominic Roskrow
Nose: Beautiful. clean and sweet, with pineapple, melon and tropical fruit under a gentle mist of dusty oak and a hint of polish.
Palate: Less sweet and much spicier than you might have expected from the nose. Quite delicate, too, so you need to go hunting. More banana, lime cordial and then BIG spice.
Finish: Gentle and soft, with yellow fruits. Surprisingly balanced, with the gentlest hint of oak. A bit shy and understated but none the worse for that.
Comment: This is an old gem and a very different take on the standard Bunnahabhain. The gentle Islay malt? Spot on, and smart and polite too. Worryingly drinkable for a whisky at this price. You have been warned.
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