Bunnahabhain 12 years

Review 2017-076 «Specifics»  Single malt • 46.3% Alcohol • Matured for 12 years in an sherry and bourbon casks • Non-chill filtered • Natural coloured • Bunnahabhain Distillery (owned by Distill) • Bunnahabhain • Scotland • Widely available • Price ±€40 • Whiskybase #77779

STORY. For some reason, the Bunnahabhain aged for 12 years is the whisky that I have associated most with the Holiday season up to now. Maybe because I bought it during one of the first cold days last year, or because I recall it as a whisky with gently warming, sweet, and Christmas Holiday/Glühwine-associated spices. Let’s reconsider… (Later on, we’ll conspire, as we dream by the fire, to face unafraid, the plans that we’ve made, walking in a winter wonderland)


APPEARANCE. Sturdy looking bottle, including tough-looking sailor. Since the acquisition by Burn Stewart, the greenish glass has been changed into a brownish glass, but more importantly the whisky is nowadays naturally coloured and non-chillfiltered! Colour already implies a heavy-sherried profile.

NOSE. Directly the spiced sweetness with cinamon, nutmeg, chili powder, and tabasco come through. Oh, that is definitely the full sherry-palate. In fact, a typical oloroso sherry nose appears with fresh baked sweet bread, fresh coffee, coffee powder, more cinamon, and light sweet/sauer notes. But there is also Pedro Ximenez sherry such as sweet cherries, dried figs, and brown sugar. In addition, notes of caramel, toffee and raspberry sweets. Note: When my bottle was opened for some months, a sulfuric smell started to come through, which put a different balance to the profile. Not sure, if it really improved though.

TASTE. Sherry! Spicy cinnamon, very dark chocolate, cacao powder, and chili powder are all there. With a back-tone of coffee. In addition, some herbal notes with cough sirup, mint, sweet licorice are coming through. After a while it becomes dry in the mouth, and more mellow spices come up, including cinamon, pepper, some (sweet) anise seed. No sherry boldness around here. In addition, the taste is slightly bitter and acidic. In the middle, a very light smoke appears. So there is some Islay character present after all (!), although it is quite well hidden behind the sherry. Also here, the sulfur notes alter the palate after some time, which gets a more earthy character.

VERDICT. Winter spices in optima forma. Although, the profile of this whisky seems to change over time from a spicy sherry Christmassy single malt to a more mellow earthy one. Is it still as good as I first thought? Well, let’s say the change is interesting. However, the Bunna 12 remains a highly recommended non-typical Islay whisky.

Recommended for sherry lovers who do not like Islay for its peat.

A bottle of this was purchased from Gall & Gall!

«What others say»

  • @Whiskybase: Mean score of 84.11 (1073 votes)
  • @Ralfy: “A good whisky just got better” Score: 91/100
  • @jason-scotchreviews: “You should seek this malt out and give it a go”
  • @whiskyadvocate: “Extra points for versatility — this whisky will accommodate many moods and situations” Score: 89/100
  • @scotchnoob: “This is a good middle-of-the-road dram, mostly notable for its diversion from traditional Islay peat character” Score: recommended
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