Whisky is on a roll at the moment, and barely a week goes by without some new special whisky launch, quite often involving whiskies which command prices running in to thousands of pounds.
It’s a mad, crazy and mind-boggling world which has attracted the fashion set like moths around a flame, and if you go on to the internet you’ll find a world of bloggers desperately trying to outdo each other in pursuit of there latest releases.
Stand back a minute, though, take a reality check, and you’ll find that the world of single malt whisky is a lot more straightforward. It’s just a case of deciding what sort of flavour you’re after, setting a budget and then taking some advice from a member of the Whisky Shop team. And you really don’t need to spend a fortune to drink great malt. Indeed, that’s where this feature comes in.
Each week I’m going back to one the iconic whiskies, the classic malts which form the core of the Scotch malt whisky world, and reappraising them afresh. These are the malts which started it all off for so many whisky lovers and may have been forgotten by many as they seek out new and exciting tastes.
This week it’s the turn of Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old
If you go back to Bunnahahbhain today, you’re sure of a big surprise. And if you’re looking to re-ignite your passion for an old flame with this tasty little number, you’ll discover she’s put on make up, had her hair done and is wearing skimpy skirts - making her a feistier, sexier and altogether much hotter challenge all round.
Bunnahabhain 12 year old isn’t what it once was. Brand owners Burn Stewart has made two important changes, one the direct consequence of the other. Firstly it decided that it wanted to makes its whiskies non chill-filtered. Chill-filtering is the traditional process used to stop whisky clouding when it’s cold. At low temperatures fats and flavour compounds solidify, causing a clouding of the spirit. So companies chill the whisky and filter out the solids, guaranteeing clear whisky whatever the temperature.
But in recent years there has been a growing view that the process removes flavour and it has become something of a badge of honour to non chill-filter.
But Burn Stewart didn’t want clouding, either, so what to do? The answer was to raise the strength of the whisky because from 46% ABV clouding doesn’t happen. So now Bunnahabhain 12 year old has a a very grown up ABV of 46.3%.
the effects on the taste have been amazing. What was the gentle and barely peated taste of Islay has become a rugged, wind-swept and bolshy seaside whisky of distinction. The fruity flavours are there, the seaweed earthiness intact, but now you can almost taste the sea salt and hear the gulls sing. The flavours are enhanced, peat is clearly part of the mix and the taste crashes across the palate like west coast waves crashing on seaweed-covered rocks.
Your old flame is no longer the nice girl next door, she’a vamp, whisky’s equivalent to Grease’s Sandy dressed in leather.
It’s the one that you’ll want , honey, oo, oo, oo….