The 18 year old is one of their un-peated standard expressions, and was re-introduced in a 'craft presentation' a few year's back, meaning they upped the ABV to 46.3%, and dropped the chill filtration and added colouring. They have applied a similar treatment to all their whisky, which is an excellent move! I just wish other distilleries would follow suit.
Bunnahabhain 18, 18yo, 46.3%, Islay, Scotland.
Matured in a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-Oloroso casks, proportions unknown. No added colouring, non-chill filtered.
Colour: Nice deep, dark bronze. This should definitely be bottled in clear glass, to show off that natural colour. Lose the brown bottle please!
Nose: Honey sweetness, dried fruits and light salt. Toasted nuts and sherry, a little dusty.
Texture: Thick & Oily, very nice.
Taste: Tiny hint of smoke, and a little salt, fades quickly into juicy apples & pears, light oak and boozy raisins (sherry). Surprisingly spirited and assertive for it's age, and very different from the 12yo, much less salt and malt, and more sherry and fruit.
Finish: Sweet & lightly salted nuts, sherry comes through to the end.
Score: 3 out of 5.
Notes: The mouth feel on this one is great, thick and viscous, thanks to the higher ABV% and lack of chill filtration. Big, bold flavours too, although I can't help but wish there was more substantial peat & smoke in there. Initially reminds me of Bruichladdich's black art 3 to some degree, but with much less complexity, balance and finesse, albeit at a much lower price.
I may be a little biased, given the name of this blog, but I can't help but wish for more peat and smoke in the standard Bunnahabhain's I've tasted so far. They needn't follow their neighbours and go the heavily-peated route, but a little smoke and peat adds an extra element of complexity to any whisky, which I can't help but feel may be needed here.
This is still a great malt though, and well worth trying if you care to visit the 'lighter side of Islay'. Check it out here at a very reasonable price. Cheers!