‘A drinkers paradise'
N: Sherry meets cocoa butter meets chewy dried fruits meets an old seaside boat yard. Nutty, toasted, oily, dirty, peaty pancakes, creamy vanilla, buttery/citrus, almond/pecan & cinnamon pastries, Caramac with yeast and pink wafer biscuits [slightly stale] - all sorts here. There are signs of some less that favourable casks in the midst [including a smidgen of sulphur], but thats all out shone by such wonderful maturity and complexity that heralds time for some dad noises. Delectable nose.
T: Relaxed and yet clumsy arrival - actually rugged is a better word - salty and herbal but the creamy, oaky malt soon balances any over egged seasoning and bitterness. The sherry has a huge and influential role as part of the interplay between spirit and wood. That sherry is filthy, haha, old style oaky sherry, if you’ve ever visited the distillery, the architecture and decor is in keeping with the grubby old style of its whisky which is part of its unique charm. Everything combines wonderfully well, offering a delicious full mouthful. Slightly drying but not a problem.
F: Salty fruits [from the bourbon casks] ride the crest of a woody sherry wave as it thickens and becomes a buttery, peppery malt slowly unravelling and releasing more and more depth until it disappears enigmatically with smoky oak lingering. Occasional and sublime touches of vanilla and greengage jelly peat keep the taste buds on high alert. Chocolate? - yes! Flint - that should be emphasised. Anyone who played with lighters will know th smell/taste of flint - and here it is coupled with twigs and green leaves from privet hedges, and also, lick a beach pebble and you’re getting close. Does this come from the cask? Theres often mention of gunpowder in Karuizawa’s for instance, for Bunna 12 and 18n its gunpowder, flint and pebbles.
C: Mildly reminds me of Glendronach 21 parliament, but thankfully with balance and without a cloying nature - this is a drinkers paradise. If there was any criticism its that its lacking in that special life sparkle you get from super 12yo batches and more active cask management in general. You can’t help sensing that mass blended single malt impression you get from large volume vattings, but hey, you get that from the 12yo too and most other distilleries. Having said that, its not weak, its very full bodied and will keep giving. Furthermore, its a serious maturity jump from the 12yo. Those six years haven’t been wasted. Don’t add water mind, its a sensitive malt. Overall, really good stuff, superbly blended, thoughtfully matured and at £62 at time of writing, this is one superb everyday drinker giving copious 'dad noises’. One must appreciate the harmony between spirit, cask and sherry/bourbon influence over the years of maturity. Even with a touch of sulphur, the controversial J. Murray scores it 93.5 - and that says a lot for the performance of this malt. For me, Bunnas work best with at least a touch of peat, sherry & bourbon casks and time. What we have here is a splendid example in execution of those elements. I can only imagine the splendicity of a Bunna 18 with the cask quality control offered by the likes of Talisker and Springbank at the moment. Then we would have a stella star performer in our midst and one to rival the lamented Karuizawa’s, oh yes.
Scores an A-