Bunnahabhain, a True Master of Whiskey With a Wide Range of Superb Whiskeys

Bunnahabhain, a name synonymous with quality Scotch whisky, has delighted enthusiasts with each and every creation for years. The special annual-edition cask strength 12-year-old whisky released in 2021, drawing its inspiration from the memorable visitor tastings held in the distillery's renowned Warehouse 9, and was greeted with enthusiasm and as expected has lived up to the reputation of Bunnahabhain.

For years, Bunnahabhain has been tantalizing taste buds with cask-direct drams in Warehouse 9. This cherished experience, once exclusive to visitors, can now be relished globally. The wide range of craftmanship is a testament to the distillery's craft. It stands as an unfiltered homage to the much-loved Bunnahabhain range.

The 2021 Edition: A Connoisseur's Delight

The 2021 edition of Bunnahabhain Cask Strength 12 Year Old is more than just a whisky; it's a sensory journey. Brendan McCarron, the Master Distiller at Bunnahabhain, shared in a statement, "While visiting Islay and tasting our whisky directly from the cask is a joyous experience, we recognize that not everyone can make the journey. With this yearly release, we're bringing that cherished experience to whisky lovers worldwide."

This exceptional Scotch, with an alcohol volume of 55.1%, boasts an unpeated profile. It reveals rich, oily notes of dried fruits and cereal at first, followed by layers of caramel and vanilla. The spirit invites enjoyment in its purest form or with a splash of water to unveil its floral nuances.

McCarron further explained the unique attributes of this release, "Not every whisky is suited for cask strength bottling or full maturation in sherry casks. Our 12 Year Old at cask strength magnifies the signature spices, black pepper, and cinnamon, while perfectly balancing the spirit's essence and the wood's influence. It's a more intense representation of Bunnahabhain's character in a bottle."

The 2022 Edition: A Connoisseur's Delight

The Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old is a remarkable whisky in its own right, yet its cask strength annual rendition elevates it to extraordinary heights. The 2022 edition has garnered widespread acclaim from whisky enthusiasts around the world, and with its appealing price point, it promises nothing but delight for those who indulge in it!

On first encounter, the nose is greeted with a harmonious blend of sherry cask influence and a robust malt base. Notes of sultanas and dark chocolate intertwine with the homely scent of fudge brownies. Complementing these are subtler tones of wild grass and unprocessed blonde wood. As the glass is gently distanced, a rich berry fruitiness emerges, mingling with the initial aromas to evoke the sophisticated air of a fruity espresso bean.

The taste journey diverges notably from the nose. It commences with the savory nuttiness of cashews at the forefront. As the whisky traverses the palate, it evolves into a bold, roasty creaminess akin to a stout beer. Mid-palate, the whisky finds harmony in a fusion of malt, tannic wood, and a zesty citric edge, accented by the diverse elements previously noted. The progression brings forth more pronounced and tannic wood notes, culminating in a finish that bursts with sherry-driven dried fruit, transitioning into a coffee stout-like aftertaste, leaving a warm, tingling sensation.

Contrasting with expectations set by previous cask strength expressions, this whisky forges its own path. It anchors itself in the deeper, more robust end of the flavor spectrum, with coffee and stout notes beautifully offset by sherry cask influences. Its delightful taste and reasonable price point make it a must-have, earning a high place in my collection of essential whiskies.

The 2023 Edition – An Artful Examination

A notable departure from its predecessor, this whisky exudes a rich, buttery aroma at the forefront. The sherry cask's influence of dried fruit is present but subtly layered beneath creamy, oaky vanilla. As the bouquet settles, there emerges a blend of Asian-inspired notes, including soy sauce, five spice, and lemongrass, with a gentle, bitter citric undertone of orange peel.

The flavor profile builds gradually, initially subdued upon entry but gaining momentum towards the center, echoing the creaminess detected in the aroma. The palate experiences a bloom of intense dried fruit flavors, heightened by a tingly texture. The transition to a drying wood note is smooth, stopping just shy of sourness. The finish is heat-forward, unfortunately overshadowing other flavors, leaving a hint of must and earth in its wake.

This 2023 edition presents a markedly different profile from its 2022 counterpart. The creamy nose is captivating, though it occasionally threatens to overshadow other aromatic notes. The palate delivers a slow but satisfying build-up to a coherent flavor climax. However, the finish falls a bit short of expectations. While my preference leans towards the 2022 edition, this still offers a worthwhile tasting experience, meriting a mid-range score.