Bunnahabhain 23, 1991 (Whisky-Fässle)

Here’s a Bunnahabhain.

Oh, okay, I’ll try a little harder. This is a single bourbon cask bottled by the German outfit, Whisky-Fässle in 2015. That was near the very end of the golden age of independently bottled Scotch whisky, when 20+ yo whiskies of high quality were available for not much more than $100. These days high quality indies of any age at good prices seem very thin on the ground. In fact, I can’t remember the last indie bottle I purchased—not that I purchase much whisky of any kind any more. Anyway! Official Bunnahabhain is usually heavily sherry-bothered and so it’s always nice to try bourbon casks from independent bottlers. I’ve reviewed two others this year: this 6 yo bottled for the Whisky Barrel, and this 30 yo bottled by Old Particular for K&L in California. It pains me to say that I liked the 6 yo more than the 30 yo (but it also pleases me to say that I had not purchased a bottle of the 30 yo). As a better portent, I did like the last Bunnahabhain 1991 I reviewed (this 25 yo, also from K&L)—though that was from a sherry cask. Let’s hope this is as good.

Bunnahabhain 23, 1991 (47.5%; Whisky-Fässle; bourbon hogshead; from my own bottle)

Nose: Acid (lemon) and mineral (limestone) notes to start with a leafy vein running through them. With time the leaves pick up a bit of a smoulder and more fruit begins to come through: pineapple, a hint of peach. A few drops of water emphasize the sweeter fruit, making the whole muskier, and turns the lemon to citronella.

Palate: Very much as predicted by the nose with tart fruit (green apples, gooseberries, lemon), wet stones and, as I swallow, mild leafy smoke. On the second sip there’s white pepper and cereals added to the mix and it’s a bit sweeter (pineapple again). Goes on in this general vein with the smoke (never phenolic) becoming a little more prominent. Okay, let’s see what water does. Water pushes the smoke back a bit and brings out more of the wet stones.

Finish: Long. The leafy smoke builds as it goes and salt pops out to join it at the end. As on the palate with water; less salty now.

Comments: Lovely bourbon cask whisky. Austere at first but comes along nicely as it goes. Not sure what the source of the smoke is but it works very well with the acid and the fruit. I liked the nose better with water but the palate better neat. For now anyway—I’m interested to see how it develops as the bottle stays open.

Rating: 88 points.


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