'Puts colourful hairs on your chest’
N: Following on from another Balblair [1990 - blog], this is fairly raw. It can sometimes be a shock moving from sherry to bourbon, especially when also jumping from 46% to 59% abv. There’s a suggestion of peat or smoke here, but that’s not where the main story lies. We’ve a big salty hit with monkey nut shells, dried citrus-y/hessian cereals, clams & candy, gluten-free bread [certain brands], lightly smoked shortbread and various savoury [spelt/buckwheat-based] cakes, capped by an all-encompassing, abv-fuelled, oily cereal-spirit armlock.
LAST 1/4 BOTTLE: A waxy citrus barley richness coupled with some woodiness - so there’s a resinous youthful maturity if that makes sense?
T: Well, that’s beautiful barley sprit right there: strong, assured, firm, focused, confident,… and then steady as she goes into a mixed bag with a congealed element throughout. Time & water thicken things up a great deal. Deep cereal notes apply. There is too, a precociousness. With some push me-pull me action from three casks, it’s not an easy ride - well it is Bunna, and so it’s typically edgy all the way. Worth the commitment mind, but needs careful management.
F: A light pepperiness, creamy/lemony/bourbon-y and a touch fresh with putrid dairy/aniseed - happily all compliant. Finishes on wafer & rice paper, vanilla-y < chalk, a light sweet milky porridge [I’m talking service station takeaway pots], and a somewhat ungainly, dry and wood-heavy putrid note that’s a struggle. I get a Smarties coating conclusion. everytime.
C: A hardcore yet pleasing slugger that never lets up. Provisionally scores 86
N: Potent, yeasty, pollen-y >> floral, biscuity/floury, resinous & salty, paper-y, savoury-sweet barley juice that will gladly comfort your cockles on a winters night, or a brisk English summer evening for that matter. Pleasing and varied.
T: Some interesting plastic waxy notes have crept into the arrival over time, but the main story is still of a firmly assured, almost butyric barley juice base with a unique mixed bag layered on top - Bunnahabhain being the Ben Nevis of Islay don’t you know. Water doesn’t really touch the cereal, herbal barley ginger < aniseed-chilli mix - a little [chilli-barley] dry.
F: Decent mouthfeel on the turn with a gradually rising peppery aniseed heat, this is one dram that never lets up. It remains solid, yeasty & resinous with creamy barley underneath metallic witch hazel. There’s more chilli-barley dryness once again with an undeniable sweet barley conclusion.
C: I’ll push it one more mark given it continues to challenge whilst giving out at every turn - classic Bunna in that respect.
Scores a B