Saturday, 22 June 2019

Side by side : Three Bunnas

For this 'side by side' blog I've picked 2 NAS drams from the @Bunnahabhain current range and one that's recently been discomtinued. I'm sure we all know (and love) the entry level 12yo, the 18yo and the 25yo but these drams fit somewhere in between.

Bunnahabhain is one of nine (and growing) distilleries on Islay and unlike the rest most of their output is unpeated. Of the three drams below the first is unpeated but the other two have used peated barley - lets see what they are like!

DramStiùireadairToiteach A DhàCeòbanach
Characteristics46.3% ABV, Non-coloured, NCF46.3% ABV, Non-coloured, NCF46.3% ABV, Non-coloured, NCF
Bottler infoMeaning Helmsman in Scots Gaelic, Stiùireadair, is the first Bunnahabhain Limited Edition to pay homage to the Bunnahabhain Helmsman, who adorns every bottle. But our Helmsman is no mere icon, he is a reminder of our origins, a link to our past, and a symbol of our enduring appreciation of the sea by which we are surrounded.

To create Stiùireadair, our Senior Blender has selected first and second fill sherry casks with spirit of varying ages and warehouse locations to construct a dram that truly exposes the coastal nature of the Bunnahabhain single malt whisky, whilst not losing the sherry influence everyone knows and loves in the famous 12 year old.

Nose: Dried fruit and creamy caramel with hints of brine, vanilla, nuts and a touch of spice.
Palate: Creamy mouth feel with a dried fruit influence, sea salt, creamy caramel with hints of nuts and a gentle spice.
Finish: Long and lingering with hints of dried fruit.
Meaning 'Smoky Two' in Scots Gaelic, Toiteach A Dhà (pronounced Toch-ach ah-ghaa) is a sequel to the original peaty paradox on Bunnahabhain’s gentle single malt. To create this Mòine variant, our Senior Blender, Dr. Kirstie McCallum selected a combination of ex Bourbon and Sherry casks which were then matured in full, in our coastal warehouses on Bunnahabhain Bay.

With touches of smoke from our peated malted barley, this whisky’s prickling strength emanates from the dram, while warming with a lingering, robust length and delicately sweet sherry influence.

Nose: Intriguing peatiness with hints of sherry and rich oak.
Palate: Immediate warming peatiness drift to a sweet Oloroso sherry influence with rich oak, balanced with delicate pepper.
Finish: Robust length for the discerning palate
This Limited Edition (now discontinued) Mòine is one of the first of the modern-day Bunnahabhain Moine Single Malts to be released. Meaning ‘Peated’ in Scots Gaelic, ‘Mòine’ is how each of our peated whiskies are affectionately known. Ceobanach [pronounced kyaw-bin-och] means ‘Smoky Mist’ and harks back to a simpler time; when island life depended on peat for warmth and trade, a time when smoke from the open fires mingled with the salty sea air, to create a ‘Smoky Mist’ you could almost taste.

Bunnahabhain Ceobanach has an unusually rich character; from the sweetness of the Bourbon casks, to the intense Islay malt peatiness, not to mention the characteristic sea air influence from more than 10 years maturing on the coast.

Nose: Intensely pungent depths of sweet oak, seaweed, smoke and elegant light tar with mild antiseptic
Palate: Exceptionally balanced malt sweetness, then tangy yet mellow vanilla, white pepper, bitter orange and salt.
Finish: Lingering oatcake saltiness and sweet peppered smoke
My thoughts: 
Mid gold in the glass with a hint of red, swirls lead to slow fat legs.Mid gold in the glass with a hint of red, swirls lead to slow fat legs.Pale gold in the glass, swirls lead to slow fat legs.
NoseEating ice-cream on the beach - vanilla with a salty note. A little honey and strawberry too. After a while in the glass a little fudge or chewy toffee. Huge peat smoke with strawberry notes. A little citrus and dried fruit poke out along with some spice.Bonfire on a beach - balanced smoke and salt. Some spiced apple notes.
PalateCreamy arrival with an oily note, again the vanilla ice cream but this time drizzled with salted caramel and sprinkled with chopped nuts.Syrupy arrival - smooth and sweet, initial hints of strawberry and spice before a blanket of peat smoke covers everything.
A lingering sour citrus note on the tongue - yummy!
Creamy arrival - loads of vanilla and spice. Honey and orange oil notes give a balance of sweet and sour.
FinishSherry and dark chocolate notes with a little red fruit.Peat smoke and salt - icing sugar dryness.Spicy with a hint of smoke. Some honey and apple notes linger.
OverallInitially it was thought that the Stiùireadair was going to replace the 12yo, a classic amongst whiskies, but happily it sits alongside it's more expensive unpeated sibling. It's a nice dram but being exclusive matured in sherry doesn't have the spicy element of the 12yo. The Toiteach A Dhà on the other hand shares the mixed sherry / bourbon maturation but adds peated spirit to the equation and in my mind balances all three aspects perfectly. The maritime influences on the finish round it off perfectly. The Ceòbanach goes the other way and is exclusive matured in ex-Bourbon casks - this shows in the paler colour, added spice notes and lack of red fruit notes.
My preference would be for the Toiteach A Dhà perfectly balanced and very much a moorish dram! The other two are close behind. I'd fit the 'standard' 12yo somewhere in the middle.

Thanks to @Dram_gazette for the Ceòbanach sample!

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