Well, on the box they have it as the Bunnahabhain XXV. On the label they put the age in Arabic numerals as well, just to be safe—say this for Bunnahabhain: others may be taking ages off their malts but they put theirs on in two different notations. By either notation this is the oldest official Bunnahabhain I have yet had. I got this from a bottle split—the bottle it came from is at 46.3%, which means it’s post-reboot Bunnahabhain (the reboot happened circa 2011, I believe, but don’t trust me). As to what the actual year of release of this bottle was I’m not sure. This is supposed to have a fair bit of ex-sherry cask whisky in the vatting. This is true of the rebooted 12 yo and 18 yo too, of course, and those are both quite different—I found the sherry in the 12 yo I reviewed to be overbearing and indeed sulphurous, whereas in the 18 yo I reviewed I found the sherry touch to be light and the resultant malt to be balanced with the briny and fruity character of the spirit coming through. Let’s see where on the spectrum this one falls.
Bunnahabhain XXV (46.3%; from a bottle split)
Nose: Raisiny sherry right off the bat, with sweet honey and some tart citrus (orange) coming through from below. Hints of cola as well and a nice maltiness too. After a minute the citrus is more marmaladey and there’s some apricot too. Gets brinier too as it goes. With more time the fruit gets quite intense: the raisiny notes are now closer to red plum; a bit of pipe tobacco too. Nothing new with water.
Palate: A thinner version of everything from the nose with a leafy, almost wood-smoky bite as I swallow. Some milk chocolate here and on the second sip more oak. The texture is a little too thin. As on the nose, the fruit gets more intense with time but never very intense here; and a slight metallic note develops as well. Nothing to report here with water either.
Finish: Medium-long. Gets spicier as it goes and the oak becomes a bit sharper too. Water knocks back the spice and oak and emphasizes the sweeter fruit into the finish.
Comments: Very reminiscent of Highland Park on the nose and very good there. The palate is a bit too thin both in terms of intensity of flavour and mouthfeel, and there’s not much development or complexity, and you sort of want that in an older whisky, I think. This has no flaws but it also has nothing to particularly recommend it over, say, the Highland Park 18 (which even at its now inflated price is quite a bit cheaper than this). And I have to say I preferred my last bottle of the Bunnahabhain 18 to this too.
Rating: 86 points.
The price has skyrocketed too boot. I have seen it for several hundred dollars in a few stores. A total non-starter as far as I am concerned. Even at the old price of ~ $350 it wasn’t worth anywhere near the money.
Winesearcher has it going for as high as $700 (which is insane) but most places seem to have it between $350 and $500 (also insane). If you go by what’s in the bottle I’d say $125-140 is the most I’d consider paying. What I mean is that at that price lots of other malts that offer the same general profile are available—younger, yes but probably better (Highland Park 18, Glendronach 18, Springbank 18). And not that I’d pay the current asking price for the Yamazaki 18 but I think that’s far better value too than $350, let alone $500, for this.
Courtesy Jordan D. on Twitter, the link to this official sales sheet that details the cask composition of the Bunnahabhain 12, 18 and 25. Some interesting things: the 25 yo is comprised of spirit matured in “20% American charred Bourbon casks, 60% ex-scotch casks, and 20% Olorosso Sherry casks”, whereas the 18 yo is comprised of spirit matured in “65% Olorosso Sherry casks and 35% American charred Bourbon casks”. Based on this you might expect the 18 yo to be far more heavily sherried but that isn’t the case. Jordan hazarded that the difference might have to do with first-fill and refill sherry, but it seems to me that “ex-scotch casks” must refer to refill casks.
The description of the 25 yo, unlike the 12 and 18, does not specify that it’s un-chillfiltered, but I’m guessing that’s just an omission.
Thanks for posting this one. I had considered the splurge on the XXV, but there are very few reviews posted for it anywhere on the world wide inter web. I enjoyed the XII alright, but I absolutely love the XVIII. So my gut was telling me to stock on extra XVIII, rather than splurging. Now you definitely have me leaning that way.
You’re welcome. I think you can do far better for the money. I’d tell you to try it for yourself before buying but unless you know someone with a bottle any bar that might carry it will likely charge a ransom for a small pour.
By the way, Serge reviewed a 2011 issue of this 25 year old. Our scores are very close but our experience was otherwise reversed: he didn’t care for the nose of the one he had and far preferred the palate.
I noticed his review as one. Oddly enough he hasn’t reviewed the xviii since its old 43% version.