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In 1997 Bunnahabhain distilled quite some peated spirit, which basically isn't their house style. The German independent bottler Malts of Scotland selected sherry hogshead 3172 and squeezed 279 bottles from it (my bottle is number 212). The spirit was produced on 28/08/1997 and bottled in July 2009. It has a wonderful amber color.
The nose is waxy and offers the sweet character of a sherry cask, such as candy sugar, licquorice and butterscotch, but also a fair share of peat, smoked bacon and the scent of a dying barbecue. Even a pinch of salt. Leave it for a while and the candy sugar dominates. The same applies for adding a bit of water.
The first sip is quite a punch: very peppery attack. Prominent are the peat and some ashes, while the fruity marmalade and caramel struggle to reach the surface, but to no avail. A beautiful balance of sweet and salty, have no doubt. Water flattens the whole a bit, but the balance remains.
The finish takes almost as long as the forming of the Belgian government and dies a bitter death.
The sherry cask was less active than on the spirit of the Bunnahabhain 1992 of Malts of Scotland that I tasted this summer. I prefer this one, though.