...where distraction is the main attraction.

Friday, September 29, 2023

Concluding 2023's Bunnahabhain Cluster

(Bunnahabhain cluster 2023 homepage)

If one just scrolls down to the see the rating for these 13 Bunnahabhains, that person may go, "Meh. Another set of 81-90 point whiskies."

And a defense of that could be, "Yeah, Bunnahabhain can be boringly great. Is that a crime?" But really, I struggle using one number to summarize a whisky's experience. Many of these Bunnas were a wild ride as I searched to find their honey spot. Did they need water or time, or neither? So perhaps a better way to demonstrate my three weeks is by using a letter-grade range, taking into consideration each one's peaks and valleys:

So this cluster really swung between C grade and A- grade experiences. This is why I've been qualifying my grades more frequently recently, to help pinpoint strengths.

Some of these whiskies were oak dominant, like the 28yo 1988 and the 10yo 2009 (quite the age range), while others, like the 23yo 1991 were nearly nude. There was a monster and a pipsqueak. And then there were the Goldilocks whiskies, the current 12yo and the 33yo 1980, that were juuuuuuust right.

Perhaps that's the tale of many single malts, but these Bunnahabhains had no peat to hide behind. Yes, when Laphroaig and Lagavulin get it right, they are divine. But Bunnahabhain can shine as bright or brighter when all the chemistry works. And that's sort of the point of our whisky quests isn't it? To discover works for our palates and what doesn't?

So is a 81-90 point single malt "boring"? Or is it "reliable"? I'll go with the latter, knowing I came out of this cluster a bigger Bunnahabhain fan than before.