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Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old

Barley-Malt at Its Most Subtle

0 889

@VictorReview by @Victor

9th Jan 2014


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

The reviewed sample is compliments of @Nock

Nose: delicate and elegant flavours of barley-malt and wine. Bunnahabhain is famous for being the most removed of the Islay distilleries from the smokey/heavily-peated style, though they do some peated whiskies as well. The sorts of barley-malt-cum-wine flavours here are not unfamiliar, they are just of a very beautiful and high quality. The predominant barley flavours are medium-pitched and show some well-muted pear, apple, and grassiness. The very mutedness of these flavours give them a 'come hither' sort of enticing quality. This is a minor work of art

Taste: very vibrant on the tongue, with the nose flavours translating quite well. This is quite crisp, relatively bright, and also shows spiciness in the mouth not evident in the nose. The wine flavours are strong in the mouth. Very enjoyable

Finish: this goes to sweet, spicy, and winey at the end of the finish. The other flavours last only a medium length

Balance: I had some Bunnahabhain 12 a couple of years ago which I really did not like at all. This one is great. This is more a whisky for those who appreciate subtleties than for those who wish to get the big-flavour-club-you-over-the-head experience. These are subtleties which I find very easy to like

Related Bunnahabhain reviews


WhiskyBee commented

Excellent review, as if you were capable of anything less. Either this is one for which we must agree to disagree, or my bottle of Bunny 12 is from a bad batch--and I understand this one's notorious for batch variation. I get many of the same tastes and aromas as you, but my bottle also has a nasty sour cream note that doesn't compete well with everything else. It's a whisky I respect more than like.

7 years ago 0

hunggar commented

Perhaps the sample you didn't love was from 2010 or earlier before they knocked the abv up a good 6%. I never tried it then, but I'm told it's much better now. Personally, I've had a few samples from several different bottles this year. So far I've found the Bunna 12 to be pretty consistent. But experiences vary, of course.

7 years ago 0

Nock commented

I bought this bottle in October of this past year (2013). The bottle had just been opened a two days before the sample. Bottle code: P029382 L5 12337 15:04. I found the code (very hard to read) just below the back label.

@Victor - Again, I thank you for the review. I agree very much on your findings and assessment. It is easy to drink, complex, light, not a huge experience, but very easy to like. I have only rated this bottle on one occasion so far earning 25 on my scale (about 88.5 - rounds up to your score of 89). I want to rate this a few more times before I put notes up on Connosr. So, again, nice to see your finds for this bottle are in agreement with my own (thus far)- not that we always have to agree! – but it is nice.

7 years ago 0

Victor commented

@WhiskyBee, the two experiences I had of Bunnahabhain 12 YO could hardly have been more different. "Nasty sour creme" sounds, well, nasty. I don't think of myself as well-experienced with Bunnahabhain 12, having had only 3 drams from 2 bottles. I think that we'd really have to taste from the same bottle at the same time to accurately compare notes.

@hunggar, when I sampled Bunnahabhain 12 before it was on a whisky cruise in May 2011, so, really closer to 3 years ago than to 2. At the time what I had, tasted like a washed out mish-mash of non-descript flavours...more like dish-water than anything else. (I am going by the nose to approximate the palate of dishwater here.) Could it have been the earlier lower ABV edition? I suppose so. But the problem then was more WHAT it tasted like rather than whether the flavours were concentrated enough. It was the whisky I liked the very least of everything which I tried that night. Still, it was only one sample. I am always careful to put into perspective that misleading impressions can be obtained from just a single sample, particularly when that sample was consumed in the hubbub of a whisky cruise.

@Nock, thanks much for supplying the bottle provenance information. I had thought that this was from a newly opened bottle, but I didn't put that into print because I wasn't sure. This bottle of Bunnahabhain 12 YO certainly changed my thinking about that whisky which had been based on my prior sample from 2 1/2 years previously. About having friends who see many whiskies similarly,... it is very nice when that is possible. Of course it is not always possible. It really surprised me that you liked Glen Grant 10. I would have thought that you would have prefered Glen Grant 10 not neat, but made as a boilermaker with a shot of Octomore in it. No, just kidding, you would never waste a shot of Octomore on a Speyside whisky. But you COULD throw in a shot of Johnnie Walker Double Black.

7 years ago 0

Nock commented

I love the idea of a whisky in whisky boilermaker! A shot of Octomore in a pint of Glen Grant 10yo sounds hilarious. Of course you are correct - Never waste a dram of Octomore. But a shot of Laphroaig 10yo CS would certainly work.

All kidding aside. I actually can enjoy a nice light and simple dram. But I doubt I can ever see a "light" whisky making it into the 90's for me. I think this Bunnahabhain is a classic example of that. It is a great bottle and on the edge of that mark . . . but not quite there for me. At least not yet! We will see how the bottle changes. I hope for the better . . .

7 years ago 0

Nemesis101 commented

Bunna 12 must be my favourite light 'entry-level' dram, particularly since they went au naturelle to 46.3% and removed the chill-filtration. It's a nice little antidote to its southern Islay neighbours yet still has enough about it to not be as insipid as some of the more commercialised Speyside 'light' malts, if you know what I mean.

However after trying a few of their peated releases, I honestly think they're better off staying unpeated and Islay atypical. It really does suit them better.

One thing though; this review has reminded me I've not bought a bottle of Bunna 12 for a good couple of years now. Time to remedy that methinks :)

7 years ago 0

whiskydallas commented

Excellent review! Upon sampling this I too am quite intrigued by the muted flavours. It took a good while to allow specific flavours to come through neat. Quite smooth or easy to drink with a mild heat go to bottle and I too taste a malty wine right through to the finish. An excellent go to bottle

7 years ago 0

Rantavahti commented

Great review! And exactly how I feel about it.

7 years ago 0

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