Whisky Review #130: Bunnahabhain 1989 28 Years Old (The Whisky Agency Bottling)

I have a soft spot for Bunnahabhain. It was and still is a rather underrated distillery, primarily due to it having lived in the shadows of its more illustrious cousins on the Kildalton coast.

The distillery has historically been known for producing either unpeated or lightly peated whiskies, although there have been instances where heavily peated whiskies have been distilled and bottled either officially or by the various independent bottlers.

With the owners of Burn Stewart, Distell, having committed a sum of £11m to extensively refurbish the distillery over the next few years, it is expected that the distillery will finally receive the recognition that it sorely deserves.

In keeping with last week’s review, we continue on our journey through the various expressions which were sampled during my recent trip to Melbourne and this week’s review focuses on an expression of Bunnahabhain which was distilled in 1989, matured for 28 years in a hogshead before being bottled by The Whisky Agency at a cask strength abv of 46.4% as a joint bottling for the following bars:

– The Drunken Master Bar, Taiwan

– The Mash Tun Tokyo, Japan

– Bar Caprice, Japan

– Still Fun, China

– 61 Monarchy, Malaysia

– The Elysian Whisky Bar, Melbourne

So, let’s jump right into the review!

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Bunnahabhain 1989 28 Years Old (Bottled by The Whisky Agency)

Bunnahabhain 1989 28 Years Old (Bottled by The Whisky Agency, 46.4% abv)

Colour: Bright gold

Nose: Initial entry presents a wealth of salinity and earthy minerals, followed by white pepper, green chili, oak, parchment and lemon zest. With time, more fruity elements emerge, with hints of orange, stewed peaches, flint and cinnamon. (22/25)

Palate: Initial entry presents more of the earthy minerals and salinity in the form of sea salt, followed by a blast of white pepper, oak, green chili and a touch of creosote. The fruits then emerge in earnest and the stewed peaches, orange and lemon zest detected on the nose are complemented by cinnamon, a touch of peat, a savoury hint which is akin to rancio and thyme. (23/25)

Finish: Long and lingering on the finish, with the thyme, oak and cinnamon taking over the proceedings and providing a touch of dryness. (20/25)

Balance: A rather well-balanced and enjoyable dram which exhibits the coastal and saline side of the Bunnahabhain distillate alongside some of the fruity and earthy elements as well as a hint of peat. One is able to discern that it is an older style of whisky and that there is a fair bit of age to it. The mouthfeel is generally drying and becomes more pronounced over time. (21/25)

Rating: 86/100

This exceptional expression was savoured at The Elysian Whisky Bar and while I’m unsure whether they have anymore bottles left, the bar is well worth a visit due to the sheer variety of independent expressions as well as the immensely affordable prices.

Until the next review, have a wonderful week ahead.

Slainte!

Brendan

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