Way back in the early months of the blog I posted a review of the 2012 release of the Bunnahabhain 18. Because I am so current I have for you today a review of a bottle from the 2016 release. I opened this bottle a few months ago but hadn’t gotten around to reviewing it until a chance mention of it in the minor fracas over my comments on K&L’s recent Clynelish exclusive reminded me that I should. As you may remember, I noted of that Clynelish that I did not think it was the best use for $250. After an initial erroneous recommendation of the Springbank 18 as a cheaper sherried alternative—when I last had the Springbank 18 it was far more sherry-driven than it is now—I mentioned the Bunnahabhain 18 in a similar vein. As you will readily imagine, David Othenin-Girard of the K&L spirits department—who apparently is my most devoted reader—was very pleased with this suggestion: he kindly wished me great enjoyment of the Bunnahabhain 18. Accordingly, I am here now with the details of that enjoyment.
Bunnahabhain 18, 2016 Release (46.3%; from my own bottle)
Nose: A mix of leafy and raisiny sherry notes with some mild milk chocolate/milky cocoa notes in the background. On the second sniff there’s some orange peel to go with the raisins and a slightly metallic quality as well. As it sits the orange peel shades towards apricot and there’s a good whiff of savoury gunpowder along with some pipe tobacco and some salt. The fruit is brighter with a bit of water and there’s a dose of honey too now.
Palate: Not as sweet on the palate; comes in instead with oak and (darker) chocolate with the raisins and orange coming up behind. Good texture. As it sits it gets more savoury—nuts rather than the gunpowder from the nose. Brighter here too with water and that metallic note from the nose shows up too now, as does some of the savoury gunpowder.
Finish: Long. The leaves start smouldering now and are joined by some cracked pepper. The orange comes up again with time. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Yes, I can confirm that I would take this over the K&L Clynelish 23 and have enough money left over for 1-2 more good malts any day. Again, this is not a slam on the quality of that Clynelish 23, merely a commentary on relative value. Anyway, looking at my notes for the earlier release this seems quite different—more of a bite on both nose and palate than I noted for that one. Darker sherry here for sure. Maybe less distinctive for that reason than the earlier edition but I like it anyway (though hardcore sulphur-phobes will certainly like it less). Now, is the current version as good and still in this vein or has it gone back to the milder profile?
Rating: 87 points.