Bunnahabhain has made a habit of putting out some truly memorable limited edition releases over the past few years. The casks used for these special editions have varied from PX to red wine to French brandy. In 2020, they went back to Sherry casks but instead of the typical sweet Sherry commonly used in the Scotch whisky industry, this release was aged in Manzanilla Sherry casks. Manzanilla is a really interesting Sherry style that’s dry and has some inherent salinity to it. In fact, it’s about as far as you can get from a PX cask when it comes to the influence this wine would impart on a whisky. A distillery like Bunnahabhain already has some costal influence baked into its whisky based on its proximity to the shore. Couple this with Manzanilla influence and it makes for a very unique end result.
It’s also worth noting that this was not a finished whisky. This Bunnahabhain aged for over 11 years entirely in Manzanilla casks before being bottled in 2020 at 52.3% ABV. Without overwhelming wine sweetness, a cornucopia of subtle flavors was allowed to shine through in what turned out to be a surprisingly good whisky. This whisky came with a much higher price tag than the previous bottlings in the series. As always, keep in mind the importance of your own price to value ratio to determine whether or not this bottle is worth purchasing.
|Nose||Shortbread, rum raisin cake, salted caramel, briny, mixed nuts. With water, a bit herbal, petrichor, and biscuits come through.|
|Taste||Sharp baking spice, dark chocolate, lemon peel, pretzels, almond, pecan, gingerbread, more caramel, coastal vibes with a nice salinity throughout. Water adds additional sugar sweetness and some orange citrus.|
|Finish||Ginger, minerals, white pepper, dried berries, toffee, lots more nuttiness, and a bit of oak. Water brings out a bit more heat but adds vanilla, cinnamon, and a hint of fruitcake.|
|Overall Thoughts||Wow, this is a really interesting offering from Bunnahabhain. This whisky was allowed to show off some unusual flavors without the overwhelming influence of a sweet wine cask like PX or Port. The salty and nutty profile worked really well here and all the flavors were still nicely integrated. With salted nuts and pretzel notes, it's like this whisky contains all the snacks you might expect at a bar all neatly packaged into the liquid itself. This is a release well worth trying if you get the opportunity.|