I’ve been very curious about the cask strength version of this classic, but it took me a while to source a sample of the Bunnahabhain 12 Years Cask Strength, which was first released last year. Since then a 2022 Edition was launched also, so this review might not be very current anymore. But I wanted to try and write about it anyway.
The distillery said it was inspired to create a cask strength version of the Bunnahabhain 12 because of visitor tastings in their ‘Warehouse 9‘ on Islay. While I have great experiences with a number ofwarehouse tastings—and have also visited Bunnahabhain distillery—I’ve never been inside Warehouse 9. However, I did once have the opportunity to try one of the hand-filled whiskies from Warehouse 9, but that was of a peated expression, which is not my preferred style from them.
The Bunnahabhain 12 Years Cask Strength is unpeated, or maybe very lightly at 1 or 2 ppm, but barely noticeable anyway. It has matured in Oloroso sherry casks.
Bunnahabhain 12 Years Cask Strength (55.1%, OB, 2021)
Nose: Lots of toffee, fudge and caramel notes with maybe just a hint of sulphur too. Not too distracting and it disappears after a minute or two. Whispers of rum-soaked raisins and orange zest. Burnt toast and fresh ginger too. Taste: A somewhat spicy, oaky arrival. Plenty of cloves and nutmeg and black pepper, but also an oily mouthfeel that’s very satisfying. Some tart blackberries, raisins and dark chocolate. The sulphur makes an appearance here as well. Also some nougat and toffee. Finish: Lingering spicy notes with soft notes of mocha and almonds.
The oak is maybe a touch too present, but the 2021 Edition of the Bunnahabhain 12 Years Cask Strength has a lot going for it. A very outspoken, almost loud whisky with a mouthfeel that's up there. Not cheap, but very good.