Abbey Whisky Bunnahabhain 23 Year Old

In a twitter tasting organised by the tireless Steve Rush and Abbey Whisky, my favourite dram was a Ben Nevis 16 Year Old. Rather than talk about that whisky, this post is about Bunnahabhain.

I've a soft spot for Bunna. It's rarely superb, although of course there are some limited bottlings which shine. But it soldiers on, offering a gentle, creamline toffee dram, sometimes with a touch of salt, sometimes with a little more sherry. Of course there are plenty of whiskies doing just that. Jura, Arran, Tomatin spring to mind. What sets Bunnahabhain apart is a lightness of touch, a citric, lemony note which keeps it from being bland or uninteresting.

This particular Bunnahabain is a very fine example of the style. The nose isn't intense. Rather, it is elusive, with hints of citrus, hints of salt, hints of milk or cream, in a way which draws me in rather than boring me by their faintness. The palate is a bit of a surprise at first, with a huge hit of chilli astride the honey notes, but then the salty touch and the mustiness of old casks distracts me. Water calms the chilli, leaving a light sweet fudge flavour with a warming, albeit short, finish. A nearly excellent whisky.

And that's the point, I think. If Bunna was really excellent, one would need to be a bit reverential about drinking it. But because of that nearly, you can pay attention and find something to interest you, or you can simply be dog tired and in need of a dram without having to think about it, dammit, and either way Bunnahabhain will do the job nicely.

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