SMWS Small Batch Bunnahabhain & Bunnahabhain North Star 8yo


SMWS Small Batch Bunnahabhain & Bunnahabhain North Star 8yo

Today we’re correcting a grave injustice and reviewing our first two Bunnahabhain’s for the site. First up is a peated Bunna from the SMWS.

SMWS Distillery 10 Small Batch (Bunnahabhain)

Region: Islay

ABV: 59.6%

Price: £67.50

This small batch release was created from a combination of second fill Oloroso & PX sherry hogsheads as well as re-charred hogsheads. It was bottled at 7yo as part of the society’s celebration of the 2021 Feis Ile. SMWS named it Sweet, smoked salmon jerky.

Nose

Initial hit of smoked mackerel in greek extra virgin olive oil, honey roast ham, and very light peat. Could be a mixture of peated and unpeated Bunnahabhain? Touch of baked jazz apple, floral note similar to aloe vera, and a high note of brown sugar sweetness.

Palate

Charcoal and chalk, burnt toast, bitter charred oak, burnt square sausage with brown sauce, raisins, fleshy smoked salmon, almonds and poached pear on the finish. Finish is quite short and a bit of a letdown.

Nose (with water)

There’s a note of brine-y coastal sea air, some orange essence, ginger, nail varnish remover, charred oak, and Christmas fruitcake.

Palate (with water)

Sherry notes and spice are brought to the forefront. This is cinnamon spiced rice pudding, red currant jam, and brioche buns.

Conclusion

An interesting experiment from the society, one that we think has worked quite well. A bit short on the finish and simple in some regards, water brings out more of the individual cask flavours and results in a pleasant dram. It would have been nice to experience the individual casks but we hope this marriage has produced something better than the sum of its parts.

Score: 7/10

Bunnahabhain North Star 8 year old

Region: Islay

ABV: 49.9%

Price: £72

Back to North Star Spirits for our next review as we try an 8yo unpeated Bunnahabhain that was finished in an Oloroso Hogshead. This was bottled as part of North Star’s cask series fifteen. There was 366 bottles released exclusively for The Oak Barrel an independent bottle store based in Sydney.

Nose

On the noses there’s warm butter, a light woodiness, a touch of sulphur, prunes, and Magners cider.

Palate

This is Christmas cake drizzled with honey. Very oily mouthfeel, think of toothpaste without the mint. There’s also salted caramel, cassia bark, and fresh tarragon leaves.

Nose (with water)

With waters there is caramel drenched vanilla ice cream, butter cream biscuits, and ginger. There’s also very prominent sherry note.

Palate (with water)

Water mellows this out a little. The orange on the palate is now much more prominent. There’s also a note we can only describe as Tunnock’s Caramel Wafers. Alcohol heat lingers on the finish.

Conclusion

This is pleasantly fruity and tasty. Saying that it’s a touch hot even with water. We think this would have benefited from a little longer in the cask, as it’s still a touch more spirit forward than we’d like, but if that sound like your cup of tea go for it.

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.

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