Last week I had a review of a young first-fill oloroso sherry cask Bunnahabhain released by the Whisky Barrel. This week I have for you a review of an even younger Bunnahabhain released by the Whisky Barrel, this one from a first-fill bourbon barrel. It is bottled as a Staoisha, which is one of the names used for peated Bunnahabhain. This “Staoisha” business is, I think, relatively new. I’m not sure if the distillery mandates that name for independently released peated Bunnahabhain or if this is something the indies came up with on their own (there do seem to be more than a few new’ish Staoishas around). I’d suspect the former but, again, as I don’t follow industry news I can’t say for sure. If somebody who knows more is reading along, please write in below. Well, to begin to get to the whisky: I wouldn’t normally be very intrigued by a 6 yo whisky but last week’s 10 yo was very good; odds should be good that the Whisky Barrel did a good job of picking this cask as well. Let’s see if that turns out to be true.
Staoisha 6, 2013 (59.7%; The Whisky Barrel; first-fill bourbon barrel; from a bottle split)
Nose: Bright peat—quite phenolic—with lemon, brine and a cereally, mineral sweetness. Very nice indeed. Not much change with time. With water it gets creamier and much saltier; the lemon turns to citronella.
Palate: Big ashy smoke to start with everything else from the nose following after. Very approachable at full strength and a very nice texture. On the second sip the youth begins to make itself known as the ashy smoke picks up some mezcal and a whiff of gasoline. The oak, however, is quite restrained. As it sits a slight rubbery note emerges as well but the whole is still very pleasant. Some vanilla begins to peep out with time. With water the sweeter notes expand and the whole is mellower.
Finish: Long. The smoke and the phenols hang out for a while, picking up some white pepper as they go; saltier at the end. The vanilla from the palate shows up here as well. As on the palate with water.
Comments: A very nice surprise. The nose in particular is very good—the palate betrays the youth. Another six or eight years of aging and this might be truly excellent. As it is, it will satisfy the needs of anyone looking for a heavily peated but not raw young Islay.
Rating: 86 points.