Bunnahabhain 17 year Malt Trust [53.3%]. Truth be told, I have inexplicable reservations about reviewing the whiskies I am absolutely floored by. That being stated, I caved in and decided that it was time to set the record straight. And by straight I mean to write of a whisky I absolutely delight in to the exclusion of most. So here comes some un-abashed praise for one of my top three whiskies that I intend to describe in laudatory, effusively complimentary, and absolutely (and justly) biased terms. The first Bunnahabhain I had was at a joint off of Columbus Street around a decade ago. It was a non-distiller’s release and it stood out, delighted me with its intense flavors that I didn’t have much of an appreciation for in the details but that I savored in the overall effect. I had a Royal Lochnagar Reserve that night as well that was tasty, but that is another tale. Since then I’ve enjoyed the distillery releases of Bunnahabhain though I’ve never been ‘blown away’ by any. But then there was a night I stumbled into Whisky Thieves with the usual suspects and was, in my already malleable instability, intrigued by the etched whale rounding a bottle of impossibly dark whisky in the already dark interior of a reliable establishment. And I had heard tales of this particular whisky, perhaps this particular bottle. Good, cryptic and appreciative tales. The color of the pour sold me, a warm darkness in a dark and boisterous place. The nose and flavor that followed put a drive in me to obsess in a vague but no-less-earnest fashion about the pour I had enjoyed. It was well over a year before great fortune, the assistance of the Whisky Shop and the concerted efforts of two friends who had joined me on an all-day birthday-crawl put in my hands a bottle of the Bunnahabhain 17, Malt Trust edition. And we drank quite a bit then, appreciated it enormously I am sure, but I definitely was not in a state to review let alone recall the fine and wonderful details at that time. What the hell, I’m sure it was good.
Which brings us to now: dried out to get some music done, I broke my fast with the aforementioned and took notes. A phenomenally dark brown with red tones. Rich and foreboding.
Dense nose, aged wood, preserves, a certain sweetness, almost a cola syrup. I thought it didn’t have any legs until I realized that they were simply slow in descending. Used a wonky glass, too (my bad). The flavor was dark and layered with hints of roasted seaweed and grain. Burn and heat reared their heads quickly, seizing the front of the palate in the wake of a briefly water-textured mouth-feel. Dense roasted flavors, some once-burnt hay giving way to tightly bound smoke and dark sugar notes hiding traces of peat and more aged grain somewhere. A lingering chewiness leading to numb cheeks and gums set in. There were no floral qualities, no joyous combination’s of a lighter wine notes and heather-full-of-wind fun. This whisky is a dark and resilient thing hearkening to an era of profound and simple flavors both robust and compelling. N. Nicoll.