Well, I went almost three weeks but I’m breaking with my run of official distillery releases in order to finish the tour of Islay left incomplete last month. I’ve already hit Kilchoman and Bruichladdich/Port Charlotte this week; here now is a Bunnahabhain. This is quite a bit older than both of the others reviewed this week. It’s a single sherry butt bottled by Whiskybase for their Archives label back in 2014 or so. “Gather round, children, Grampa’s going to tell you how much more affordable single sherry cask whisky past the age of 20 was back then.” Okay, whatever, if you’re going to make fun of me I’m just going to review the damned whisky.
Bunnahabhain 23, 1990 (47.9%; Archives; sherry butt 52; from my own bottle)
Nose: Sweet raisiny sherry with some savoury gunpowder and leather interlaced with it. On the second sniff there’s some soy sauce and a touch of hoisin along with an earthy note of dried mushrooms (more like the soaking liquid). The salt expands as it sits and a big plummy note emerges. A few drops of water emphasize the orange—more juicy than dried now.
Palate: Comes in as promised by the nose with a little bit of an oaky backbone added on. The texture is maybe just a bit too thin but it’s a perfect drinking strength. On the second sip the oak begins to turn into the leather from the nose. The savoury gunpowder is here too (just a touch) along with dried orange peel and the dried mushrooms. The dried orange peel expands with each sip. Brighter here too with water and the gunpowder and mushrooms pick up a bit.
Finish: Long. The orange peel and the earthy notes stick around for a while and then the oak emerges. As on the palate with water.
Comments: This is excellent sherried whisky of its type. While the sulphur-phobe will likely object, it has no real flaws to my mind. All that keeps it from the next tier is that the fruit is not quite as pronounced as I would like.
Rating: 89 points.