Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Bruichladdich 2011, Bunna OP 15, Bunnahabhain 12 CS 2021/2022, ‘Vaguelay’ Islay

Pronounced “Vague-LAY… Ai-LAY”. Here are some peated or lightly peated islays.

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011, 50%
2010 edition has been reviewed here. Yet again, this is a showcase of local barley producers. This time it is 2011 vintage year and if you care about colors this one came in a grey tin. Aged 6 years in oak casks there’s nowhere to hide. Ripe melons, honey, cantaloupe on the nose, some butter and a touch of sea salt. The palate starts sweet and citrusy crisp, then punches with char and smoke notes together with generous serving of numbing sichuan spice mix. Long finish with buttered, candied and very toasty nuts. There’s a touch of smokiness at the very end of the aftertaste that lingers, very alike to after-effects of breathing smoke during a night in front of a campfire. Overall: Well, this is a surprise! A very entertaining Laddie-in-a-glass. And while this is slightly smokey for me, it certainly got that ’smoke-not-peat’ thing going in spades. Chalk it up as a success for 2011. Value: Still findable for ~$70, this is a solid value for an interesting and perhaps underrated bottle.
Score: A-

Bunnahabhain 15, Old Particular, K&L SP, 53%
A 2006 unpeated Bunna. The nose is brightly acidic, reminding me of Sauvignon Blanc wine with citrus and melons. There’s also a bit of a perfume there which I rather quite like but I cannot put my finger on the actual source. Let’s just settle for it smelling like yellow citrus and flower blossoms. The palate starts sweet and buttery with light mineral saltiness, then there’s a one-two punch of spice and wood that hits a flavor peak. From the peak, it gently fades into more salty minerality mingled with some malt sweetness and a bitter end note that’s not all that enjoyable. A splash of water tames that flavor peak, for better or worse smoothing out some of the interesting edges in the process. Overall: Quite off the beaten path in terms of profile this was not a great cask to pair with a Bunna. It’s certainly a fresh, light, citrusy, and fragrant but also unbalanced in its experience. It flows from one facet to the next in a disjointed manner. I’m really not a fan of a touch of bitterness note in the aftertaste either. Value: On paper, this is solidly priced at $109 for a well known distillery and a very reasonable age statement.
Here’s the original listing
Score: C+

Bunnahabhain 12, Cask Strength, 2021 Edition, 55.1%
It’s a well known fact that limited editions from Bunna are quite tasty. Let’s try this 2021 edition of cask strength 12 year old. Color is dark amber. The nose is quite intense with dried fruit and bourbon spices. There also seems to be a touch of chocolate in the mix. More intensity on the palate but the profile is mostly same from the nose. Surprisingly consistent aftertaste follows with warming pepper that lingers for a while. It is a little intense on the proof to be an easy drinker, though it reacts decently to water, I’d recommend skipping water here due to relatively low age. Overall: This is clearly a mix of bourbon and sherry casks but it definitely leans towards bourbon side of things. I like this quite a bit. It’s extremely consistent and while multi-layered it’s also easy to ‘understand’. This is right up the alley for folks that enjoy bourbon cask influence in scotch. Value: This is ~$89… Probably solid value.
Score: B+

Bunnahabhain 12, Cask Strength, 2022 Edition, 56.6%
It’s a well known fact that limited editions from Bunna are quite tasty. Let’s try this 2022 edition of cask strength 12 year old. The color is light chestnut. Quite intense sherry on the nose, dried cherries and prunes. The palate has more of the dried cherry fruit and spices but not overly complex. Medium length aftertaste with sherry sweetness and yet again more dried fruits there. Due to some viscosity this stick around the mouth for a while. Water doesn’t change or adds much other than diluting flavor. Skip the water. Overall: Bunna pairs well with sherry, but it’s not a particularly complex proposition here, leaving some nuance being hidden by sherry. This bottling will please sherry cask lovers, but will have others asking for more. Value: At ~$89 this is a solid value.
Score: B+

In the Bunna 12 CS 2021/22 showdown, there’s no clear winner… It really comes down to what the drinker enjoys. If they enjoy sherry: then choose 2022; If it’s bourbon casks then 2021 has the edge… Mixing the two in a roughly 1:1 proportion is, to me, tastes a little better than having them apart.
For the record, the ‘old’ Bunna 18 is much better than the ‘new’ Bunna 18.

Scoring Breakdown: https://www.aerin.or … age=scores_breakdown