Blind Tasting #12: Bunnahabhain 2008 11 Years Manzanilla Cask
We’re in the home stretch of the Blind Tasting Competition. Only two more whiskies to go now. But first a closer look at sample #12 — the Bunnahabhain 2008 11 Years Manzanilla Cask. Against odds I was hoping to score a good few points with this, because I wasn’t confident at all about my submission.
Instead, I just narrowly escaped my first zero pointer of the competition, because I was pretty close in age. The problem was I never thought to look at Islay. Bruichladdich popped in my mind for a minute, because they don’t mind messing around with cask types that are off the beaten path. Then again, I probably should’ve realised Bunnahabhain does this too.
I could smell and taste that we were in fortified wine territory, but not one of the common sherry types like Oloroso or Pedro Ximénez. It also had a sulphur note, which really reminded me of the type of sulphur I sometimes find in Mortlach (like this one that I once emptied a bottle of). But it couldn’t be Mortlach, because you rarely see one matured in an exotic cask. Mostly though, yesterday’s whisky was from Speyside, so it automatically disqualified that entire region.
Anyway, I finally settled on Blair Athol, which can be a bit weird and funky at times, which is how I would qualify this Bunnahabhain 2008 11 Years Manzanilla Cask.
Bunnahabhain 2008 11 Years Manzanilla Cask (52.3%, OB, 9240 bts.)
Nose: Spicy and sweet with touches of cocoa and oak shavings, as well as cracked black pepper corns and some banana peel. A minor note of sulphur, but also cherry syrup and cherry pits. Finally some red apple skin.
Taste: Subtle winey fruitiness and the syrupy mouthfeel to match it, then also white pepper, nutmeg, blackberries and toasted brown bread. Just a touch of sulphur in the background.
Finish: Lingering sweetness and spiciness. Basically more of the above.
A Bunnahabhain that actually co-exists fairly well with the Manzanilla influence, which is mainly recognizable by the syrupy, sweet fruitiness. I’m not entirely convinced though. Sold out pretty much everywhere I believe.
Thijs is a spirits writer and accredited liquorist from The Netherlands. He runs the blog Words of Whisky and contributes to a number of Dutch and international publications.