...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Single Malt Report: Bunnahabhain 33 year old 1980 Whisky Doris

When I saw that this post would be of the 450th whisky I've rated, I decided to bust out something fancy.  Searching through the samples, I reflected on life and then pondered what whisky defines me as a person, ultimately finding--

Actually, I already had this whisky scheduled and then just noticed the mini-milestone while updating the Big Whisky List yesterday.

Anyway, I had the opportunity to try this Bunnahabhain last week and thought it would be a fun change of pace from the previous two whiskies.  It is not peated and it is old and it is sherried.  A mere two years ago, 30-40 year old Bunnas could be had at reasonable prices.  Now they can't...

...except for this one.

At the current exchange rate, this 33 year old single cask can be had for $150ish (minus VAT, before shipping).  There are other distilleries' single casks half its age that are going for that price, and the official 25yo (multiple cask) Bunnahabhain is $400 in California.

Before trying this whisky, I'd had a small but positive experience with this Whisky Doris, going 2 for 2 with their bottlings.  But those WDs were A-level whiskies.  So, though I don't blindly buy bottles at that price, I was flirting with this whisky online.  And then, magically!, I was asked to lead a tasting event that had this as part of the lineup.  From that event, I departed with my own sample and now I'm going to give it an official review.

Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Independent Bottler: Whisky Doris
Age: 33 years (May 1980 - November 2013)
Maturation: Sherry Butt
Cask number: 92
Limited bottling: 236 of 460
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 45.6%
Chillfiltered? No
mit Farbstoff? Nein

This one gets the paragraph treatment today:

Its color is dark gold, though lighter than a young bourbon.  The nose has some oak up front but it's mellow and toasted.  The sherry is very laid back.  So, at first there's honey and roasted nuts.  Then suddenly there's a burst of blackberry syrup.  Then raspberries simmering on the stove.  Toffee, almond extract, pipe tobacco, a hint of cantaloupe.  Toasty sandalwood (like a mizunara cask, but not).  Some roasted malt in the background.  There's no mustiness and no sulphur to be found.  The palate leads with mandarin oranges, or are they blood oranges?  Roses.  Lots of dried berries.  Maybe some raspberry candy.  Whispers of nutmeg and pepper.  Later on there's a silky creamy note and more exotic fruits linger in the distance.  It finishes with fresh berries (raspberries and strawberries) in sugar.  Dark chocolate with berry filling.  Hints of tobacco and lime.  But it's not too sweet, just gentle, graceful, and drifting along.

Gentle, graceful, and drifting along.  I adore this whisky.  Kristen liked it too, which is a hell of a thing to type.  This isn't a sherry bomb.  It's very delicate.  It's what the angels left behind after taking a mighty share.  Perhaps it was a second-fill sherry butt?  Or good warehouse placement?  Or maybe it was just Time.  In any case, it's another excellent cask by Whisky Doris, so excellent that it just became my birthday gift to myself.

Availability - A few European specialty retailers
Pricing - €140ish (minus VAT, without shipping)
Rating - 92