Scotch Whisky Reviews: A Trio of Bunnahabhain

Elliott
3 min readSep 3, 2023

Let’s take a look at three uncommon Bunnahabhain expressions that I’ve got on my desk this evening.

Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine — sadly the prettiest label

Bunnahabhain Eirigh Na Greine / 46.3% / £60

Tasted neat

This no-age-statement Bunnahabhain for the travel-retail market was exclusively matured in Italian and French red wine casks. The marketing label notes that Eirigh Na Greine means “Morning Sky” in Scots Gaelic and promises a “rich, fruity malt with lots of sweet spice.”

  • Color: russet (1.3)
  • Nose: pine-sol, iodine, some peat, juicy-fruit candy, butterscotch, and raisins
  • Taste: thin and a bit hot, merlot, icing sugar, spiced wine, graham crackers
  • Finish: short; molasses and honey

I’m not a fan of this treacly, over-sweet Bunnahabhain, there’s not a lot of complexity beyond the sweet wineyness of it; it would have been better, I think, as a long finish after a reasonable period of initial aging in ex-bourbon casks. The distillery characteristic is completely obliterated!

Rating: 3/10

Bunnahabhain Abhainn Araig

Bunnahabhain Abhainn Araig / 50.8% / £90

Tasted neat

This Bunnahabhain is a special no-age-statement (NAS) bottling for Feis Ile 2022. The name means “Araig River” in Scots Gaelic, and it was created from the unusual combination of ex-bourbon casks, Pedro Ximenez sherry casks and sherry octaves.

  • Color: chestnut (1.2)
  • Nose: salt spray, iodine, oak, currants, and leather
  • Taste: oily; with big dry sherry, salted mixed nuts, baked pie crust, and nutmeg
  • Finish: medium, rich; buttercream and oak

Despite being NAS, this is bottled at a higher proof, and it has a lot more of the classic bunny flavour profile, with enough oakiness and age to it to lend complexity. While it probably (definitely?) includes some fairly young spirit in the vatting, the sherry octaves did their job to balance everything out.

Interestingly, this is widely available still from retailers like The Whiskey Exchange, Master of Malt, and Whisky Online, probably because of the higher-than-normal price-point.

Rating: 6/10

Bunnahabhain 2008 Coterie Exclusive Manzanilla Cask 13 Year Old

Bunnahabhain 2008 Coterie Exclusive Manzanilla Cask 13 Year Old / 49.6% / £83

Tasted neat

Distilled some time in 2008 and bottled on 23.05.2022, this Bunnahabhain was matured for 13 years in a first-fill Manzanilla sherry cask. It is non-chill filtered and natural colour, but probably not cask strength and was released for their online fan club, The Coterie.

  • Color: mahogany (1.6)
  • Nose: coastal sea, dark chocolate, raisins, stewed fruit, spice, a little funk, orange oil
  • Taste: oily, lots of sherry, tiramisu, Jaffa rum-cake, cashews, sourdough bread
  • Finish: long; roasted nuts and molasses

This ticks all the boxes:

  • full-term ex-sherry cask maturation
  • an age statement
  • bottled at a higher proof
  • no adulterants

It seems if you can check those boxes, you get excellent, rich, complex Bunnahabhain.

Rating: 7/10

--

--

Elliott

Personal interests in literature, SF, and whisky/whiskey/scotch, Software Engineer by Trade