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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. This particular version was distilled on 1 November 1965 and bottled on 4 April 2001 after having been matured in ex-sherry cask #7159. The total outturn was 594 bottles.
The nose is full and rich, starting with flavours of vanilla, fudge and milk chocolate. Later on notes of roasted nuts emerge, together with a hint of tobacco. There are also plenty of tannic notes but they never become overbearing. With water honey flavours develop, followed by a touch of cinnamon. All in all this is an enticing and beautifully complex nose.
The palate is medium-bodied and just a tad spicy. Again there are vanilla and honey flavours, now followed by crème brûlée and oranges. Water does not change a lot here but helps some lovely pepper notes come to the fore. Let us say that the palate is not quite up to the nose’s level: it certainly is less intense and less varied than what I experienced while nosing this whisky.
The finish is very long and warming. Notes of vanilla, honey and pepper last to the very end. There is also a salty touch, something I had not detected on either nose or palate.
This is a stunning Bunnahabhain, and I am grateful that I was able to taste this. The nose and finish got top marks in my book, and I consider myself a tough reviewer. In short: happiness in a glass!