Bunnahabhain 28, 1987 (Maltbarn)

I reviewed a 28 yo Auchroisk earlier this week. Today’s whisky is the same age but we go south and west to Islay, to Bunnahabhain, and one year in the past, to 1987.

It’s been a while since I’ve reviewed a Bunnahabhain. Coincidentally, the last one I reviewed was also a 28 yo and also from a sherry cask. That was distilled in 1989 and was bottled last year by K&L in California under their Faultline label. I quite liked it. In theory, this 28 yo, distilled in 1987, should be better as it was bottled by an outfit with a much better reputation, the German independent, Maltbarn—no longer the upstart they once were. This was their 43rd release and I suspect only a bit of the cask was bottled for it. This because there were only 89 bottles in this release and two years later they put out 88 bottles of a 30 yo, 1987 at a very similar abv. In fact, I now wonder if the 121 bottles of the 26 yo, 1987 they’d put out in 2014 was the first release from this cask (similar abv again), and if there’s more being saved for another older release. I guess we’ll never know for sure, but I’ll keep an eye out for more 1987 Bunnahabhains from Maltbarn. 

Bunnahabhain 28, 1987 (48.6%; Maltbarn; sherry cask; from a purchased sample)

Nose: Quite malty at first sniff with lime zest, tart apple and a bit of oak right underneath. On the second sniff there’s a slightly gingery aspirin-like note and a leafiness. Not much sign of the sherry. With more time the citrus moves in the direction of orange and there’s a metallic note as well. With a drop of water there’s some citronella and the malt expands too.

Palate: As promised by the nose with more of a bite from the oak. Nice texture. On the second sip the citrus is more pronounced and the leafy note from the nose emerges here too. Sweeter with time (orange here too) and then a little grainy. Let’s see what water does. Well, the fruit gets sweeter and expands but so does that grainy note.

Finish: Long. The fruit expands here—apple, orange—with the oak popping out again at the end. As on the palate with water.

Comments: Pleasant on the nose and palate, it’s on the finish that this is best. The sherry influence is rather subdued—the K&L 28 yo had a lot more of it by comparison. Very pleasant, on the whole, but I am very glad I did not pay the asking price for a full bottle.

Rating: 87 points.

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