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Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old

Good, honest fare

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@Pierre_WReview by @Pierre_W

22nd Nov 2015

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  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Overall
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Bunnahabhain distillery was founded in 1881 by William Robertson and the Greenless brothers William and James. Production started in earnest in 1883 and in 1887 the distillery was integrated into Highland Distilleries Company Ltd. Production continued uninterruptedly until 1982 when the distillery was closed for two years. It was reopened in 1984 and in 1999 was acquired by the Edrington Group. In 2003 Bunnahabhain distillery was sold to Burn Stewart Distillers, together with the 'Black Bottle' brand. This current version of the 12-year old was first released in 2010 with a new ABV of 46.3%, no chill-filtration and no added colouring.

The nose is rather light but lush with plenty of vanilla flavours, a hint of honey and discreet smoke in the background – not too complex but lovely.

The palate is medium-bodied and a bit dry. The smoke is now more distinct and comes together with notes of vanilla, nuts and a hint of lemon, overall in very good balance.

The finish is pleasantly long and ends on notes of coffee and wood spice.

This flagship of Bunnahabhain’s core range is one of my preferred everyday malts. It may not be too complex but its good balance and the pleasant mix between fruity character and soft smoke provide for good, honest fare. Kudos to Burn Stewart for having turned this into a non chill-filtered whisky with a higher ABV a few years ago, and let’s hope that they keep it that way in the light of the departure of master blender Ian Macmillan.

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2 comments

Taco commented

I didn't like the older version of this at all, and have avoided it for several years. However, I was recently gifted a bottle of this newer version and found it quite pleasant, so much so I might pay money for a bottle myself. As described, it's not complex at all, but has bourbon-barrel vanilla, a bit of sherry, a bit of smoke ,etc., making it like a high quality malt blend. Worth a shot if you want something that won't tax your palate and most guests will enjoy.

3 years ago 0

@Pierre_W
Pierre_W commented

Hi @Taco, thank you for your comment. I agree: Bunnahabhain has come a long way under (former) master distiller Ian Macmillan, and I dare say most expressions have gotten better with the higher ABV and the abandonment of chill-filtering. I started to like this whisky a few years back but after having visited the distillery in October this year I somehow even like it better now.

3 years ago 0

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