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Bunnahabhain 18 Year Old

Nozinan Mini and Sample Series - 68

4 784

@NozinanReview by @Nozinan

13th Jan 2020


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

I don’t have a lot of formal experience with Bunnahabhain. I just reviewed another Bunnahabhain and so I thought this would be a good time to review something from the same distillery, so that I could get a better idea of the house style. This is my first review of an official bottling, and my third overall. I have @Fiddich1980 to thank for this sample, which he gave me a year and a half ago! Sorry to wait so long to try it.

This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.

Nose: 22/25

Sweet, soft, sherried nose. There is a freshness to it. Dark fruits. Cherries. Baking spices. white grape juice. A little underpowered but flawless. Water seemed to mute the nose. Same smells but it’s as if the volume was simply turned down. (20/25)

Taste: 21/25

First sip is sweet and a bit spirity. There is an off, slightly solventy note. It is very fruity but it moves from the arrival through to the finish very quickly. There is a peppery note in the development. Overall a little thin in the mouthfeel. Water seems to tone down the bitterness in the development. (21.5/25)

Finish: 20.5/25

slightly bitter, pepper, long finish. Water brings out the pepper over the bitter. (21/25)

Balance: 21/25

The nose promises more than the palate delivers. The bitterness is a bit overpowering of the other flavours.

Score: Neat - 84.5/100 With Water: 83.5/100

Not a bad whisky. A little underpowered, and slightly on the bitter side, though that might be a good thing for some. I’m very glad, @fiddich1980, to have been given the chance to try it, and I look forward to revisiting the rest of the sample.

Related Bunnahabhain reviews


OdysseusUnbound commented

Nice review. I’m glad I’m not the only one who found this one “good, not great.” This was one of my more controversial blog posts out there in Facebook land. This malt seems to have a lot of fans, but it appears we do not share their enthusiasm.

3 years ago 3Who liked this?

Nozinan commented

@OdysseusUnbound It's hard to believe we reviewed the same expression, let alone the same bottle!

But I long ago gave up trying to taste all the individual things that other people can. I try my best, but ultimately my score is based on how it tastes as a whole...

3 years ago 3Who liked this?

Victor commented

@Nozinan, @OdysseusUnbound you two are not the only ones who were not wowed by Bunnahabhain 18. I first had some from Tom Alexander's bottle about 8 years ago. Tom loved it. My wife loved it. My sister liked it a lot. I was "meh" about it. I think I've had it only once since, and my reaction was not too much different the second time. I'd like to try it again, and more of it, because there is often something more to discover in a whisky that others rave about, and hasn't yet revealed its greatness to you.

@Nozinan my impressions about Bunnahabhain 18 yo were actually quite similar to yours.

3 years ago 2Who liked this?

BlueNote commented

@Nozinan @OdysseusUnbound @Victor I had a bottle of this a few years ago when I thought the price was reasonable for an 18YO. That bitter edge you mention seems to be a consistent component of the flavour profile. I also found a slight sulphury, moldy note on the palate. Pretty right on review as far as my memory serves. Nonetheless, I might give it another chance at the right price.

3 years ago 3Who liked this?

OdysseusUnbound commented

@BlueNote I thought I’d give it a chance too as many people told me a sample doesn’t do it justice, and that you need to “get to know it” via a whole bottle to understand it. And it’s entirely possible. I was unsure how I felt about my Springbank 15 at first. By the time I was halfway through the bottle, I reviewed it and rated it 89/100, and by the end of the bottle I probably would have rated it a bit higher, maybe 90/100 to 92/100. I’m glad I have another one of those.

3 years ago 3Who liked this?

CanadianNinja commented

An excellent review @Nozinan.

Though I don’t need to tell you that my overall score for this whisky is substantially higher than yours.... ; )

Once again, I’m not surprised at all by the loss in marks when water is added. This, and many other Bunnahabhain expressions, are not as overpowering initially as many other Islays and thus do not benefit from the addition of water IMO.

3 years ago 0

CanadianNinja commented

I think that is an extremely accurate statement regarding this whisky and many other Bunnahabhain expressions @OdysseusUnbound.

While I enjoy them even after the first glass, I find my overall assessment of their whiskies and particularly the 18, have greatly improved by the time I finish the bottle.

3 years ago 2Who liked this?

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