Bunnahabhain 23, 1989 (Abbey Whisky)

Bunnahabhain 23, 1989, Abbey Whisky
Abbey Whisky are a Scottish retailer who from time to time release their own cask selections. While their Glendronach casks, like those of other stores, have been released in the official distillery livery, most of their other bottlings seem to be under their own name in a series called “The Rare Casks”. There only seem to have been four releases in this series (as per Whiskybase anyway)—there are also a number of undisclosed distillery releases in their “The Secret Cask” series. All I’ve had from them so far is a very nice Glendronach (which I’ve reviewed) and a sample of their “Rare Casks” Glencadam that did not really impress me (the sample was too small for a review). This Bunnahabhain, which I opened for my local group’s tasting last month, fell somewhere in between at the first outing—I’m interested to see what a month or so of air and time may have done for it.

Bunnahabhain 23, 1989 (44%; Abbey Whisky; from my own bottle)

Nose: A bit of honey, sweet malt and a bit of buttery pastry crust. Some pear as well (with a musky aspect to it) and some stewed apple. Gets sweeter as it goes. Water brings out the lime on the nose as well and turns the pastry crust into simple vanilla and cream.

Palate: Sweet on the palate too at first but more acid right behind the sweetness—tart apple mostly. On the second sip there’s more of a mineral, almost acrid quality: peppery, plasticky, almost sooty. Quite vibrant despite the low strength. That peppery/sooty note expands with each sip; a bit of bitter lime zest too now in the background. With more time there’s growing hints of fruitier development that never quite arrives—maybe with water? Nope, no other fruit with water but the lime is brighter now and the sooty/acrid note gets pushed back.

Finish: Medium. No new development. The pepper lasts the longest. With time the late developing lime on the palate sticks around as well and it’s brighter here. As on the palate with water, but longer now and more intense..

Comments: I thought the nose was the best part. The shift between the softer promise of the nose and the more austere palate is interesting but, on the whole, this is a whisky that promises more than it delivers. Not bad at all though. I preferred the nose neat and the palate and finish with water.

Rating: 85 points.

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