As I noted on Monday, I went in once again at the end of last year on bottle splits of a large number of K&L’s exclusives (maybe even all of them? I’m not sure). There’s a rather large number of them, most, if not all, from the various Laing outfits. There were a large number of teaspooned malts in the set but also some that dare to openly wear their distillery’s name on their labels. This Bunnahabhain is one of the latter. It’s also one of the younger malts in the set. We’ll start with it anyway.
I’m also rolling out a new feature for this round of K&L reviews. As longtime readers know, K&L staff and I have not always been in perfect alignment on our ratings of their releases, either in terms of scores or values. They’ve always expressed themselves with kind restraint but I’ve been able to sense their disapproval. It hurts me to hurt anyone’s feelings and so these reviews will be accompanied by two sets of scores. One for the rest of us and also the EW! or Everybody Wins! rating (patent pending) which those who think my scores are too low can focus on and be happy about.
Bunnahabhain 12, 2007 (56.3%; Old Particular for K&L; refill hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Charred leaves and lime peel and brine. The citrus expands quickly as it sits, moving from lime to citronella, and the charred leaves move in the direction of charred wood. With time the char recedes a bit and some malt emerges. With a few drops of water there’s more sweetness (cream) and it blends well with the char.
Palate: Leads with the citrus with the charred leaves coming in behind. Very approachable at full strength and good texture. The citrus expands further as I swallow with some sweeter notes coming on. More char still on the second sip and some hot pebbles; there’s quite a bit of cracked black pepper as well now. Not too much change as it sits. Okay, let’s see what water does. It amplifies the pepper and pushes back the citrus.
Finish: Long. The acid is the top note here with the char coming up from below again as it fades. As on the palate with water.
Comments: I was not expecting this to be peaty at all, leave alone as peaty as it is. Which is not to say that it’s a peat bomb, just that the charred notes on the nose and palate are very pronounced. They work very well with the bright citrus. The whole is not very complex—though you wouldn’t expect that in a 12 yo whisky anyway—but it’s very pleasurable and very different from the sherry-forward OB 12 yo. $75 is a good value in this market but, alas, it looks like it’s already sold out.
Rating: 87 points.
EW! Rating: 120/100 points.