I'm gearing up for Sober September starting on Tuesday, September 3, ergo I'm trying to get through some samples this weekend. This review is of a 2012 bottling of Bunnahabhain's 18 Year Old. I'm assuming the abv is/was 46.3% though I may be wrong here. The sample was graciously provided by @fiddich1980
- Nose (undiluted): raisins, oak, pipe tobacco, cherries, brown sugar
- Palate (undiluted): rich arrival, somewhat oily, but oak tannins quickly overtake the oiliness, cloves, raisins, figs
- Finish: short to medium length, drying and a bit tannic, more pipe tobacco, oak spices, hazelnuts
With water this whisky becomes far more lively. More dark fruits on the nose, with some nuttiness joining the party. More akin to walnuts than hazelnuts. There's a little bit of brine on the nose as well. On the palate, the brine continues alongside some baking spices and brown sugar. The figs and dates are still there but more subdued. The finish is a bit less tannic and pulling with a touch (about 1/4 teaspoon) of water added.
I think I prefer this one with a bit of water. I have no major complaints about it, but I didn't find any "wow" factor here either. There was a bit more oak and a little less sherry than I was expecting, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Maybe I was expecting too much, given the age statement and the price of this bottle here in Ontario. It's certainly not a bottle I'd complain about receiving as a gift. I'd be happy to accept a glass or two if someone offered me a dram but I'm not rushing out to buy a bottle of it either. I think this whisky is ideal for bourbon drinkers who are new to scotch. The sherry isn't overpowering and there's plenty of oak presence. The proof wouldn't pose any kind of challenge to a serious bourbon drinker either.
Thanks again to @fiddich1980 for his generosity.
Wow, the reviews on this one run from 78 to93 with a lot of mid 80s in between. I had it some years ago in a miniature and thought it was pretty decent, not by any means a mind blower. I would probably rate it right around where you did; mid 80s.
@BlueNote My rating observations on the entire bottle:
Fresh open: 90+
1/2 full: 86
Less than 1/3: 84 or less
Also, pre-2012 Bunnahabhain were bottled at 40% then seemed to get better reviews at 46.3%. Also, some review (ATW), noted batch variation and a decline in quality from 2013 to current bottling.
@OdysseusUnbound very good objective tasting notes. Your note on "brown sugar and brine" similar to my subject and other's, "salted caramel".