Bunnahabhain (pronounced: boo-na-ha-vin) distillery is located on the north eastern shores of Islay overlooking the Hebridean islands. Back in 1881, this idyllic site was chosen because of its close proximity to the Margadale River (Bunnahabhain means ‘mouth of the river’ in Gaelic). At that time, the sea was the easiest access to this remote distillery thus both the supply of barley and the finished product were shipped via the rough seas. Today, Burn Stewart owns the distillery and maintains the traditional production methods – though access is now easier via a single road.
Unlike most Islay whiskys, Bunnahabhain’s drams are known for being gentler and less peaty. The malted barley used in Bunnahabhain is unpeated. Also, the water from their fresh spring does not originate from peaty moorlands. By not chillfiltering their whisky, they ensure that the full depth of flavor is preserved in each bottling. When adding water to this whisky you will notice that it may turn cloudy – this is due to the non-chillfiltering. As with most scotch, their spirit is aged in a combination of ex-bourbon American oak and Oloroso sherry casks.
Nose: subtle smoke, sweet dried cherries
Mouth: softer than expected, dried fruits, nuts, sherry
Finish: balanced, light hints of smoke, sweetness, slightly tangy
Verdict: The 12 year is an entry level single malt that is a really great value. With a retail of $45 a bottle, this stuff is much more sophisticated than comparably priced whiskies like the Glenlivet 12. Some of my friends who are casual whisky drinkers really love this dram because it’s easy to drink and boosts a more sophisticated flavor profile than most entry level drams. For those of you haven’t had a chance to try smoky whiskies, this is the perfect gateway dram to Islays. Unlike most peaty Islays, Bunnahabhain 12 is a sipping friendly whisky which can be enjoyed any day of the week.
Where to Buy
Beacon Wines & Spirits – 2120 Broadway New York, NY 10023
Astor Wines & Spirits – 399 Lafayette St New York, NY 10003
Park Avenue Liquor Shop – 292 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10017
Where to Sip