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This Bunnahabhain (say ‘boona-havn’) matured on a sherry butt for 17 long years, being distilled on the 25th of May 1992 and bottled in april 2010.
On the nose you’ll find the sweet touches of sherry and dark berries and some cassis syrup. But there is also Earl Grey tea leaves, albeit wrapped up in some smoked bacon that has been lying on some hot asphalt… extraordinary to say the least. Adding water brings out the sweet fruit but subdues the smokiness. The sherry cask has had quite some influence on the spirit, I think.
In the mouth the higher ABV is a kick in the teeth, but not overly so. What you find in the nose is turned into taste, but the bacon is not as present. It’s the sherry that plays first violin here. Adding water almost eliminates the smoke and brings out more of the tea leaves. I’m not sure that is such a good thing. So have this one without water.
The finish is lingering, warm and mouth-drying (if not diluted).
This is the third cask that the independent bottler from Germany, Malts of Scotland, has released from this distillery on the isle of Islay. I have not yet had the chance to taste the other two (a sherry butt from 1976 and a peated sherry hogshead from 1997), but I would sure like too. This is good stuff.