Deriving from the Gaelic for ‘mouth of the river’, Bunnahabhain was founded in 1881 by William Robertson and brothers James and William Greenless. A very smooth, easy-drinking Islay malt, Bunnahabhain (pronounced ‘BOO-na-HAven’) closed and reopened twice during the twentieth century and eventually production was limited to a mere few weeks annually following Edrington’s 1999 acquisition of previous owners Highland Distillers.
In 2003, Edrington sold Bunnahabhain to Burn Stewart Distilleries for £10 million. Included in this deal was the popular blend Black Bottle, whose contents feature a quantity of spirit from every distillery on Islay. Today, production stands at 2.5million litres a year. Of this, 21,000 casks are kept at the distillery for maturation and the resultant whisky will be used for the Black Bottle blend and for bottling as Bunnahabhain single malt. The rest of the outturn is sent for maturation elsewhere. In relative solitude, Bunnahabhain is the Northern-most Islay distillery. It sits in a large bay to the North East of the isle, drawing its water from the Margadale Spring.
A giant leap forward for Bunnahabhain 12yo, this edition was launched in summer 2010 with a jump in strength to 46.3% and a declaration of no chill-filtration and no added colouring. Enormous credit goes to Burn Stewart his faith in his craft for this offering
The whisky was poured in to a Glencairn glass, no water was added to this dram but it was left to develop for ten minutes. The colour was gold with a slightly oily look on rolling around the glass. A curtain is left on the side of the glass with medium length legs sliding down the inside of the glass.
The nose is soft and fresh with with notes of mint and cut grass. This is followed by notes of the sea . As the nose develops the notes of sweet sherry and sultanas come forward more intensely with hits of malt. Subtle and complex
The taste is very smooth, whith a overtone of sweet sherry. Like the nose it is soft and complex with hints of hazlenuts and malt mingling in with dried fruit and a little peat smoke. The location of the distillery no doubt contributes to the coastal feel in the mouth.
There is feeling of soft gentle seabreeze as one tastes this whisky
The finish is long and sherried going to dried fruit and malt. It reminds me of grandmothers fruit cake!!. A touch of brine appears. Very smooth
As an Islay whisky Bunnahabhain can come as a surprise to many. Athough coming from Islay this offering is not as peaty or smokey as other distillery offerings from the island. Bearing that in mind it is an excellent extremely well balanced offering which has been bottled at 46% giving it added complexity and flavour