You know that feeling of panic that sets in when you loose something like a set of keys and you are on a tight schedule, slapping pockets, turning over sofa cushions in a frantic attempt to discover their hiding place. Horrid isn’t it, but when you eventually find them the rush of relief is great. Or when you remember about a possession you haven’t seen in a while, you know you have it, but its just not been in your life and when you do stumble across it again, its welcomed back and put to good use.
So imagine if you happened to stumble across a cask of 40 year old whisky that you didn’t realise you had. Just how would that feel? Well, you could ask Ian MacMillan, Master Distiller at Bunnahabhain because thats exactly what happened to him when he found some ‘Turney’ casks, which were filled with Bunnahabhain whisky over 40 years ago by Glasgow wine merchants J G Turney. I suppose its difficult to imagine how you ‘forget’ a few casks, but as Bunnahabhain store around 21,000 casks at the distilleries warehouse on Islay, (some of which will make its way into the superb Black Bottle blend) it becomes a bit easier to understand.
Bunnahabhain has long been a favourite of mine and I have used a number of bottles including the duty free releases of Darach Ur in my Dramatic Whisky events to show people that not all whisky from Islay is peated as is the popular misconception about whisky regions. Therefore, I was more than delighted to reciev a sample of the newly discovered 40 year old Bunnahabhain which was accompanied by a illustration from the label created by Iain McIntoshScots illustrator, which depicts the journey this rested malt has undergone.
Bunnhabhain Single Malt Scotch Whisky
40 Years Old
Limited release of 750 bottles
ABV 41.7% vol. Un-chillfiltered
Appearance: Burnished copper with rose gold
Nose: Candied orange, vanilla wax cande, nougat and heather honey. Light earthy spice, ginger bread and balsa wood all very well integrated and still lively. Waxed leather saddle with lavender and violets round off the nose.
Palate: Orange oil with a mineral note, almost diesel like before rounded malt and ginger spice open the palate up allowing deeper vanilla and earthy spice to grip hold. Seems to sit on top of your tongue for a while before sinking in. Very little wood element which is surprising considering the age.
Finish: Clean yet spicy, again almost a mineral/fuel-like dryness before light oak and vanilla linger.
Summary: Certainly lively for its age and and unsurprisingly complex but its this assertive spice that perhaps shows the greatest departure from the classic Bunnahabhain style. Its heading towards a dryer style of whisky, perhaps held together with the waxy element before becoming too oaky.
Right, I’m off to search down the back of the sofa for my keys again.