Carn Mor Bunnahabhain 2004 15 Year Old
For me Peated malts are always at their best when they pick up some sweet character from their cask of maturation. I'll always remember the Ledaig 17 Year Old from Cooper's Choice that was finished in a Moscatel cask. Stunning stuff. And here we have another prime example, albeit more traditional with it's maturation being completely in an ex-Sherry Cask.
Bunnahabhain, the most northerly distillery on Islay, is right up there on my short-list of best at the moment. That said, I'm not a massive fan of the Distillery Bottlings of 12 Year Old, but rather I think the 18 Year Old is one of the best 18's in the market albeit incredibly difficult to find here in Australia.
In General terms, only about 20% of the malt produced at Bunnahabhain is particularly peated. And the whisky in question today is a peated malt, although only moderately.
Niel Hendriksz is the Export Director for Morrison Scotch Whisky Distillers. I recently quizzed him over zoom on this particular bottling, and he said: "It’s not your usual Bunnahabhain, which is probably why I like this specific bottling so much. Slightly peated and matured in a sherry butt gives it an incredible complexity without making it complex, if that makes any sense at all. Bottled at just north of 50% again for me is the sweet-spot as its gives it life, but you’re not fighting with the alcohol at any stage, very well integrated. "
Here are my notes from my recent taste:
Nose: The peat comes through gently, with wafts of damp forest floor, leather and a slow build of sherry dried raisins and nuts. Great complexity of character coming from the glass.
Palate: Immediate touch of sweetness then the peat (iodine style) builds with time in mouth, as does the sherry fruit flavours, touch of dried orange peel, raisins and nuttiness. The alcohol is warming with a bit of punch, but totally in a good way. There is a touch of sulfur to the malt, which can almost be expected from the Sherry Butt; however it is mild and not distracting.
Finish: Very long and warming. Once down the hatch the peat in particular stays for a while, but with a great nuttiness.
Overall: Really a great dram. 96/100
Simon Spier is the founder and lead partner of Select Scotch Whisky. A passion for Whisky, and a love of wine has lead Simon to start importing and selling limited quantities of rare and collectable Scotch Malt Whisky.