Bunnahabhain 12yo Cask Strength (2021)

Bunnahabhain 12yo Cask Strength (2021)

Another single review today, but it’s another biggie as we look at a huge release from Bunnahabhain.

Whisky: Bunnahabhain 12yo Cask Strength (2021)

Region: Islay

ABV: 55.1%

Price: £75

This is the first in what will now be an annual release of 12yo cask strength Bunna. The press release tells us it was inspired by the tastings given to visitors in the mythical Warehouse 9.

On a side note, this is something we highly recommend doing if you get a chance.

Pro Tip: We highly recommend you don’t copy us and do the morning session as cask strength whisky at 10:30am is a fairly big challenge even for practiced drinkers. Whenever you go we suggest you ask for drivers drams as you will receive your drams to take away, but will also receive a far too generous snifter of the drams to try as you’re being taken through the tasting. Although, if you are actually driving please skip the snifters as they’re a sure fire way to end up in a ditch, or off the side of the cliff leading to the distillery.

Anyway we digress, at the time of writing all we could determine regarding cask type was that sherry casks featured prominently. Worth noting for those that love sherry that from the taste and colour these were refill sherry casks.

This particular release is a very exciting for us as it’s the brainchild of Brendan McCarron. Brendan, for those who are unaware, is the former head of Maturing Whisky Stocks for The Glenmorangie Company. The whisky geeks reading this will know that Brendan was the apparent heir to Dr. Bill Lumsden, director of whisky creation at Glenmorangie. Brendan however has chosen a different route and now he’s master distiller for the Distell group. This means he’s in charge of the output from Bunnahabhain, Deanston, and Ledaig among others. A very exciting proposition for us as having been lucky enough to have been to several tastings with Brendan we’re very aware of just how good and knowledgeable he is. He's also got excellent banter.

Anyway enough detours, let’s get onto the reason we’re all here the whisky.


The nose undiluted is very yeasty, there’s also melted butter on a crumpet, some black pepper, raisins, prunes, and stewed fruits.


On the palate we’re getting blood orange juice, tobacco, orange peel, walnuts, and notes of sherry soaked raisins.

Nose (with water)

With water the nose now has notes of Caramac bars, toffee apples, cracked black pepper, cold butter, and bacon wrapped brisket.

Palate (with water)

Now we’re getting caramel sauce, warm chilli and black pepper, tobacco, milk chocolate and bacon notes. Finish here is medium length. With a good amount of the spicy heat remaining. We’d recommend you try this with and without water as we personally couldn’t decide what we preferred.


Yes, this has done a good job of capturing the spirit of a tasting in warehouse 9, and yes it’s a tasty whisky, but when we compare it to other cask strength offerings from distilleries such as Springbank 12yo it falls a little short in both taste and price. Personally, we’d have like to have seen some more interesting cask types used similar to what you would get in a warehouse tasting. We’d also have been appreciative of the price being a few quid cheaper. All things considered we have to give this a 7.5/10.

Score: 7.5/10 

  • 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
  • 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
  • 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
  • 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
  • 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
  • 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
  • 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
  • 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
  • 2 - Pour it out
  • 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.

Interested in trying drams like these? We've created the Two Whisky Bros Dram Club to help you get access to high quality, rare whisky by the dram.

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