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Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Bunnahabhain Abhainn Araig, for Feis Ile 2022

Bunnahabhain's Feis Ile bottlings aren't as lusted after as, well, everyone else's. In fact, today's 2022 limited release was easy to find a couple months ago, more than a year after its release. But that's potentially the whisky world's gain, if the whisky's good.

Columbus Scotch Night had a great Bunnahabhain event three months ago. Three of the bottlings will be part of this cluster. The 2022 version of the 12yo Cask Strength was the first. Abhainn Araig is the second. 

To keep things simple: Abhainn = River, or Huzzah for the Islay waters! To make things less simple, Bunna's blenders combined oloroso casks and bourbon casks with PX octaves (teeny casks) when fashioning this whisky. (They also released a 23yo Calvados finished single cask and a 32yo single sherry cask for Feis '22, but those certainly aren't available.) Time to find out how this specific bundle of casks turned out.

Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Ownership: Distell International Limited (via Burn Stewart Distillers)
Region: Islay

Age: ???
Maturation: oloroso casks + bourbon casks + PX octaves
Bottled: 2022
Alcohol by Volume: 50.8%
Chillfiltered? No
e150a? No
(from a paid event)


The nose reads......contemporary. Feels like it's only 3-4 years old at times, with eau de vie, rubber, and floral notes. Fortified wine cask notes encase the youth with milk chocolate, blackberry jam, raspberry jam, and Kool Aid(!). It gets more floral with time, and also picks up a charred marshmallow note. The simpler palate starts with salt, tart berries, ginger, and caramel. Some grape jam slips into the mix, as does the rubbery and peppery youth notes. It finishes tangy, tart, and tingly, with salty caramel, mixed berry jam, and a hint of ash.

DILUTED to 46.3%abv, or 2.9mL of water per 30mL whisky

Better at this strength, the nose takes on more ocean notes, less rubber. Fewer berries, more almonds. Fewer flowers, more red plums. Maybe a little bit of peat too. The palate matches the nose, with sea salt and toasted nuts leading the way. Sweet berries and cherry soda do sneak up after a while. It finishes simply with salt, ginger, and a hint of umami.


With its youth and its inoffensive casketry, Bunnahabhain Abhainn Araig reads more like a Travel Retail NAS release than a celebratory limited bottling. It seems to gel better at the now-Burn-Stewart-classic 46.3%abv level, or at least it's more focused there. Of course, it had the disadvantage of having the standard 12 year old as its sparring partner. I'm beginning to see a theme here.

Availability - Might still be out there
Pricing - ??
Rating - 83 (diluted only)