Back over to Islay, looking at another Fèis Ìle 2023 release along with an IB single cask, both from Bunnahabhain.
Bunnahabhain Moine Triple Cask Finish Fèis Ìle 2023
This festival release is a marriage of three peated single malts. The first was distilled on the 2nd of February 2004 and initially laid down in American Oak casks before being transferred to first-fill Oloroso sherry hogsheads on the 22nd of July 2013 to finish. The second was distilled on the 10th of November 2004 and fully matured in ex-bourbon barrels. The final whisky was distilled on the 16th of February and filled in American Oak casks before being transferred to finish into rum barrels on the 7th of December 2017.
The nose opens with grilled peaches, green apple slices, oil slicks, grassy peat and light wisps of vanilla pods in the background. It’s a really well integrated nose, punchy yet balanced well with the alcohol. Digging deeper, we’re getting a little tinned pineapple, honey roast ham, marzipan and pink peppercorns, all backed up with that half vegetal, half coastal peat. Time and air reveals more of a sherried sweetness, raisins, raspberries and cinnamon sugar.
The palate greets us with a burst of nutty sherry, dry oloroso and oak, moving into sweeter flavours of gingerbread, raspberry ripple ice cream and milk chocolate coated raisins. There’s a good bit of peat here, but it’s not overly aggressive, more of a backbone whilst the sweet, nutty flavours take centre stage. We’re also finding some citrus, clementine and buttery popcorn appearing after the dram is left to sit for a little while. The mouthfeel is good, it’s got a milky, creamy texture and the finish has a good length with sweet smoke, caramel, chocolate and some rich date sweetness right at the end.
Nose (with water)
The reduced nose presents a lot more upfront peat, along with creamier cashew milk, melted chocolate and hints of dried fruits right in the background. It’s pretty sweet and creamy overall, still well balanced although maybe a little more one-dimensional, as we’re missing some of the saltier, nuttier aromas.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate loses a touch of texture, it’s still somewhat creamy but feels a bit thin now, and there’s much more dark chocolate, charred oak and roasted hazelnuts appearing now. There’s something akin to lemon-pepper seasoning on the main part of the palate, waffle cones and salted caramel. We’d avoid adding water, it doesn’t do the dram any favours.
It’s a pretty solid 17yo Bunnahabhain, with a great balance of sweetness, nuttiness and peat giving it a well rounded, relatively complex profile. It’s something we’d happily drink, but it’s not blowing us away - perhaps too many competing cask types in the makeup of this stops any one of them from shining. We’ll go with a 7.5/10.
A bit mad for a 17yo peated Bunnahabhain in our opinion. We struggle to justify over £200 for anything under 20 years old these days.
Bunnahabhain Rebels The Guerilla Casks Staoisha 7yo
This release from Brave New Spirits has spent seven years maturing in a first-fill Ecuadorian rum barrel between 2013 and 2021.
On the nose, we’re finding a real yeasty, funky, banana like aroma. It’s quite new-make forward which is surprising for the age. We’re also finding a powerful pepperiness, gingerbread, limoncello and salty sea air mixing in with a potent Islay peat smoke. Time and air in the glass reveals white peach and sauvignon blanc wine. It’s quite a challenging nose, perhaps one that some will like more than us.
The palate begins with upfront rum sweetness, caramel dipped bananas, almonds, with a ginger-forward spice and ashy smoke that engulfs the whole mouth. It’s quite spicy, maybe more than we’d expect for only 56%. The mouthfeel is reasonable, not thin but not as oily or textured as we’d like, and the finish has a medium length with herbal peat and chocolate coated peanuts. Time and air reveals vanilla custard filled doughnuts and mocha coffee.
Nose (with water)
The reduced noes gives us less of the upfront yeasty aromas, and starts to bring out some light pineapple and lemon alongside the powerful Stoisha peat. There’s some crushed white grapes and green apple appearing too. There’s still a waft of salinity present, along with the peppery alcohol from pre-dilution.
Palate (with water)
The reduced palate has more of an earthy smoke, wet leaves, sandy beaches, lemon cheesecake with the digestive biscuit base, moving into leather and coconut shavings on the finish. The mouthfeel and finish remain mainly unchanged, although overall the dram feels drier and slightly woodier. We would suggest adding a drop of water to see how it changes for yourself.
We were quite worried off the nose on first impressions, it has a young, overtly-funky aroma that we didn’t quite enjoy. Fortunately the palate brought this back, and was reasonably pleasant. We enjoyed the balance of the rum flavours and the Staoisha smoke, but there were a few issues around the mouthfeel and finish for us. We’re not sure we’d come back to this dram in a hurry.
We appreciate the full maturation aspect, but this seems a bit pricey for a 7yo.
- 10 - Perfection. One in a million
- 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
- 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
- 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
- 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
- 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
- 4 - Below average. Passable.
- 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
- 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
- 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.