Yesterday I posted a brief look at the Dornoch Castle Hotel. Here now is a review of one of two whiskies I drank at their famous whisky bar: a Bunnahabhain 34, 1980 bottled by/for Whisky Fair. As I mentioned in my write-up yesterday, their bar has a rather impressive collection of whiskies. You can choose between whiskies bottled in the 1970s (and earlier), older whiskies distilled in the 1970s (and earlier) and also many recent and contemporary whiskies of very strong reputation. And the prices are very fair as well—each bottle has its by the pour price marked on it, which keeps nasty shocks at bay. They also have a large printed list. I took a look at it, I looked at everything in the cabinets and on the shelves, and my eyes began to glaze over a bit. Accordingly, I decided to just go with the recommendations of the Thompson brothers as listed with those of other staff members at the front of the whisky list. This was my first pour, Phil Thompson’s value pick from the then-current list.
Both pours came in the hotel’s own whisky glass. Customers have apparently been in the habit of “accidentally” walking off with these—there’s a good-natured request not to do so on the list.
Bunnahabhain 34, 1980 (45.4%; Whisky Fair; sherry cask; tasted at a whisky bar)
Nose: Starts off with toffee and caramel, with orange right behind and a bit of oak. Not too much change with time. Softer and rounder with a bit of water. Some apricot emerges now.
Palate: Not exactly massively sherried. Leads with citrus with some caramel on the edges. With more time there’s some apricot and some rummy notes. Brighter with water but thinner too.
Finish: Long. Gets leafier here.
Comments: A very nice whisky, with good balance but a little thin and missing some oomph. The bottle itself was in good condition and they apparently preserve everything diligently with inert gas. The cask was perhaps bottled a few years too late.
Rating: 86 points.