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Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Bunnahabhain 15 year old 2003 Amontillado Finish

Okay, okay, here's something older than 12 years. This 15yo (a mere three weeks from 16!) was sold exclusively at the distillery back in 2019. The "finish" was actually two years, so the whisky's time in Amontillado hogsheads could be considered a secondary maturation depending on how the parts converged. Hoggies offer much more surface-to-liquid contact than butts, but Amontillado is drier than oloroso, so I'm staying hopeful here!

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

Age: 15 years (20 Feb 2003 - 28 Jan 2019)
Maturation: First maturation: 13 years in ??? casks. Second maturation: 2 years in (7 or 8) Amontillado hogsheads.
Outturn: 1,710 bottles
Exclusive to: Bunnahabhain distillery
Alcohol by Volume: 57.4%
Chillfiltered? No
e150a? No
(from a bottle split)


A direct connection with yesterday's 10yo on the nose, with lots of nuts, especially almond extract and almond butter, but without all the chocolate and vanilla. Instead, toffee joins the mix. There are also some nice quiet notes of plum skin and ocean water. And, okay, maybe a Twix bar. Unlike yesterday's 10, the palate doesn't cook one's face. It's sweet (dried cherries), tangy (lime juice), toasty (oak), and salty (er, salt). Salted almonds and pistachios fill the middle. Very dark chocolate lurks in the background. Dried and fresh cherries, salty pistachios, and a sip of coffee highlight the finish.

DILUTED to 46%abv, or 1½ tsp of water per 30mL whisky

Very dry sherry (more fino than amontillado) meets citrus peels (orange and yuzu) on the nose. Vanilla and almond extracts arrive a little later. Balsamic vinegar brings up the rear. The palate starts turning earthy and coastal here. Bitter citrus peels and a sprinkle of brown sugar show up later. It finishes sweeter, with almond cookies and cinnamon. Maybe a little bit of that earthiness in the background.


While not going overboard in praise (unlike Whiskybase), I will say this is a full step better than its sparring partner, the 10yo Adelphi. I'd even argue that the sherry casks in the 15yo are better integrated than the 10yo, which isn't saying much, but the 10 did spend its entire life in one sherry cask. Perhaps the larger batch and drier sherry helped matters. But as you can see via all these sentences, it's cask-this and cask-that. The vessels are sooooo close to squelching the spirit. So though it's the closest cluster member to approach the quality of the current standard 12 year old, it still doesn't pass it.

Availability - Secondary market?
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86

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