Founded in 1881 the Bunnahabhain distillery is located on the fabled island of Islay. Bunnahabhain translates to the mouth of the river ( the river Margadale is located nearby and is the source of water for all the production ) and with its ever changing weather and rugged landscapes Islay isn’t a place for the faint hearted.
The island is of course famous for its peated whiskies but not every whisky on the island is peated !!
Bunnahabhain is one of the distilleries producing both styles and this has to be greeted with applause as this shows the island isn’t all about peat..
The distillery has a capacity to produce 2.7 million litres of alcohol from its 12.5 ton stainless steel mash tun, 6 Oregon pine wash backs and 2 pairs of stills.
Production is split somewhere around 35-40% peated and 60-65% unpeated with plenty of different casks used for maturation..
The distillery today has its fair share of releases with both age statements and NAS bottles hitting the market, now there has been enough said about the NAS category so I’m not going to go too deep into that but my opinion is that if it’s good enough and it’s ready to be bottled who cares what age it is, if it’s released under a NAS banner then producers please just make sure the price represents the quality in the bottle !!
It is about time more producers were brave enough to label bottles as 3 / 5 / 7 years or whatever instead of relying on some fancy name and a bloody ridiculous price tag..
Bunnahabhain Stiuireadair NAS
Im so glad I’m writing this instead of pronouncing it ! The translation is I believe “ The Helmsman “ this is in reflection for those helmsman who were the lifeline of the islands when all trade had to be done by sea..
The bottles of Bunnahabhain proudly carry the picture of the helmsmen and so it does seem fitting that one of the NAS carried the name..
Casks.. First / Second fill Sherry butts
Nose.. Dates, raisins and soft fig notes carry into plum jam, candied orange and sugared almonds.. A touch of Manuka honey brings a little earthiness along with dried tobacco leaf and some lemon drizzle cake..
Palate.. Spices dominate the initial flavours with some pepper and fresh ginger finally giving way to those dried fruits and thick marmalade flavours, salted peanuts, candied orange and dark chocolate mingle with old leather and soft tobacco notes..
Finish.. Spices and drying
Thoughts.. This is brought in at the entry level of Bunnahabhain and was intended to help protect the stocks for the 12 year old, now the 12 was a lovely dram so does this manage to live up to the level that set.. Yes and no.. This is rather good and certainly shows some superb flavours and aromas that we associate with Bunnahabhain.
Age wise I’m guessing this is around the 8 – 10 year mark but that is only an opinion and I have no official knowledge to back that up…
Retailing for a few pounds under the 12 year old mark this is going to split the opinions of many and I can see most still buying the 12 over this, that said this does appeal to me and the fact they don’t chill filter this and offer it up at 46.3% is in my book a winning combination..