As you may recall, this week’s theme is whiskies aged 25 years and above. I started with a 25 yo Ben Nevis on Monday (which I really liked) and the plan had been to add a year and do a 26 yo next: this Bunnahabhain 1987 released by Whiskybase for their Archives label in 2013. But as I was looking more closely at the bottle today while pouring a little more to taste while writing this fascinating preamble to the review proper (already recorded a while ago) I noticed an anomaly: the age is stated on the rear label as 26 years but the distillation date (11/1987) and bottling date (10/2013) suggest it is indeed a month short of being a true 26 yo. Now it’s possible that the error is not with the age statement but with those dates (the months might possibly be transposed) but here at Glen MyAnnoyingOpinions we believe in erring on the side of a lower not higher age statement. And so I’m noting it here as a 25 yo.
I will also soon be bringing an international lawsuit against the dastardly proprietors of Whiskybase, both for ruining my plans to review a 25 yo, a 26 yo and a 27 yo in sequence this week and for the retrospective—but no less real—disappointment and anguish caused to me by the discovery that what I had thought was a 26 yo whisky is actually a 25 yo. Buckle up, boys, you don’t know what’s about to hit you: my lawyer went to the Beverly Hills Upstairs Law College.
Bunnahabhain 25, 1987 (50.2%; Archives; sherry cask 2557; from my own bottle)
Nose: Starts out at the earthier end of sherry maturation with, well, damp earth and leafy and mushroomy notes; some oak as well. As it sits sweeter notes emerge (orange, berries) and there’s some tobacco as well. With more time and air there’s a cereal note as well and the earthy notes come back. A drop of water brings out some toffee and merges the earthy with the sweet nicely.
Palate: Comes in with a mix of the earthy and sweet here as well—along with some over-brewed Assam tea—but the oak is more pronounced. The texture is just a bit too thin; the oak gives it more bite than the abv would probably manage on its own. More citrus here too with time. Okay, let’s add water. No toffee here with water but there’s more and brighter citrus and the oak gets pushed back.
Finish: Long. The earthy notes dominate here along with some oak that’s somehow bitter without being off-putting. A bit of salt at the very end. Longer still with water and, as on the palate, it’s brighter citrus that’s emphasized now.
Comments: This is not a classic sherry bomb—relatively austere in fact. And it’s been this way pretty much for the first half of the bottle’s life. I’ll be curious to see if it changes in the second half. Anyway, it’s very good whisky but short of true excellence in my book.
Rating: 87 points.
I finished this bottle tonight and realized that I never wrote in to update on its evolution once opened. Basically it got richer and less oaky with time and air in the bottle. Probably in the 88-89 points band for the last third of the bottle.