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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Bunnahabhain 23 year old 1990 AD Rattray, cask 3515

Dewar Rattray was one of my top three favorite independent bottlers when I began reviewing whiskies. But before Monday, five out of the six previous Rattrays I'd tried were not good. Some were letdowns, others awful. In fact, in the history of this blog there has been only one non-Bowmore Rattray that was a solid B whisky. Until Monday.

One sherried Rattray Bunnahabhain kicked ass, so how about another?! This one is older and from a big ol' puncheon. And it's the whisky on the right:

Going by the visuals, this one is on another planet. Whisky looks aren't everything, but they do often hint at what's within. Would this be a dead cask???

Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Region: Islay
Independent Bottler: AD Rattray
Age: 23 years (5 May 1990 - 23 Apr 2014)
Maturation: sherry puncheon
Cask number3515
Outturn: 604 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 56.8%
Chillfiltered? No
Colorant added? No
(from a purchased sample)

Surprise! Plenty of fruity sherry on the nose. Mint extract, applesauce, citronella and wee hints of cardamom and coriander. A slight medicinal whiff floats into a clean barley note. The very malty palate has a nice soft bitterness, a gentle sweetness. Toffee, apricots and moss. It gets mustier and sweeter with time. The finish keeps the moss and bitterness. Dunnage. Lemons and limes.

DILUTED TO ~46%abv, or 1⅓ tsp of water per 30mL whisky
The whisky gets much younger, and the sherry drifts away. Pears, apples, jasmine flowers in the nose. Then hints of vanilla and white rice. The leafy palate leads with pears and ink, followed by barley and coriander. It finishes with pears, grass and a bit of earthiness.

A not-dead second-fill sherry cask, that's my guess. If you want more of its influence, drink the whisky neat. You want to wash it away? Add water. The whisky is very good because the spirit is very good. There's a little bit of darkness hiding among the fruits and sweets. Some drinkers might even like this one better than cask 5450. Like Monday's Bunny, this cask was pulled at the right time, just before tannins start knocking everything out of balance. Of course this whisky was released almost six years ago, but well done, Rattray!

Availability - Sold out
Pricing - ???
Rating - 88 (I prefer it neat)

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