Been a while since my last Bunnahabhain review. Here’s another peated expression from an independent, this time Duncan Taylor in their NC2 range (the name refers to the fact that the whiskies are neither artificially coloured nor chill-filtered) which replaced their old Whisky Galore range of affordable malts. Let’s get right to it:
Bunnahabhain 12, 1997 (46%; Duncan Taylor NC2, peated; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Brine and farmy peat (something organic rotting in wet undergrowth). Dry smoke, not phenolic at all. With more time some darker sweetness emerges (some kind of fruit–having trouble figuring out what). With more time it gets more citrussy–lime peel (not a whole lot though); and the smoke is leafier now. With a few drops of water the dry/leafy smoke recedes a bit and there’s more citrussy sweetness. A minute later there are some toffee-like notes.
Palate: Sweet, leafy smoke that expands on the palate. The smoke gets a little acrid on the second sip. As on the nose, it’s not very phenolic at all. With a lot of time and air it gets quite salty indeed. Water pushes the acrid smoke back on the palate as well, but there’s no toffee-like sweetness or citrus here; more brine though. Not as salty with water. With more time the smoke is back but the acrid note is gone–now the smoke is sweeter and just a little bit acidic.
Finish: Long. Dry smoke and quite a bit of salt. Water reduces the salt
Comments: I liked it more with water, especially on the nose, but it’s pretty good in general. That said, I much prefer phenolic peat/smoke to this dry, organic profile which is closer to the peated malt produced off Islay at Ledaig and to a lesser extent, Ardmore or Benromach. Your mileage (and rating) may vary depending on your preferences. Though I didn’t find this as fruity as the peated 12, 1997 from Signatory, I didn’t like it any less (I do prefer the Svenska Eldvatten bottling from the same year). I’m curious to see what the official peated Bunnahabhain (the Toiteach) is like, but other than that I don’t think I need to seek out very many more peated Bunnahabhains.
Thanks to jsaliga for the sample!
Rating: 84 points (86 with water, 82 without).