Bunnahabhain XVIII

"As I already mentioned, this is very characterful. It is not one of those standard sherry matured whiskies full of raisins, Christmas cake and other sherry-associated features, and I must say I admire it for it"

(Photo from Whiskybase)

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Many whisky enthusiasts must have applauded the decision of Bunnahabain to refurbish its standard range by upping the ABV and get rid of the caramel colourant and the chill-filtration. Also among reviewers the 12- and 18-year-old versions have been favourite with their combination of coastal and sherry cask influence. The ppm of their sherried range is supposedly around 3 ppm, although they have added some heavier peated versions to their range (one I recently reviewed). The Bunnahabhain XVIII is matured in a combination of bourbon and Oloroso sherry casks.

Nose

Directly, I find that this has something different, some character of its own. Filled with lots of meat, salt, make that salted fried meat, and Chinese sweet-sour sauce next to some fried duck. After a while it becomes slightly dusty, damp, like walking into a dusty room filled with old books. There is also an old leather arm chair, and somebody left a pair of socks somewhere… Furthermore, there is cake crust, fig sauce, and lots of freshly baked gingerbread.

Taste

It begins rather dry, but then becomes surprisingly fruity with black berries, raspberries, both in a well-reduced sauce. There is obvious salt, a lot, and it is slightly medicinal with some see weed. No smoke detectable, neither is there any peat present. There are some vague vegetal notes, before it becomes rather bitter and spicy, with lots of ginger, peppered salty fried duck, a few pieces of bitter chocolate, and strong coffee. The finish is particularly spicy.

Overall

As I already mentioned, this is very characterful. It is not one of those standard sherry matured whiskies full of raisins, Christmas cake and other sherry-associated features, and I must say I admire it for it. I can imagine myself drinking this with a meal of dry salty spiced meat, somewhere on the sea, some storm churning up, a real Islay fisherman sitting next to me with a big smile on his face.

What others say

Whiskybase: 87.54 (140 votes) * Serge Valentin @Whiskyfun: 90/100 * @Whiskynotes: 89/100 * @AllThingsWhisky: 91.5/100
Read for yourself

Big thanks to for sharing the sample!

Scores

these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •

Cask influence
50%
Peat/smoke
5%
  • Berries
  • Ginger
  • Meaty
Nose 87%
Taste 88%
Balance 86.5%
Depth 87.5%
Finish 87%
Score