bunnahabhain 12 year cask strength

Introducing: Bunnahabhain 12 Years Cask Strength

It’s been an open secret for a little while, but finally the launch of the Bunnahabhain 12 Years Cask Strength has been announced officially. It’ll be an annual edition with the upcoming 2021 release settling in at 55.1 percent abv.

The regular Bunnahabhain 12 Years is a whisky that’s widely appreciated. If I’m in a bar (which admittedly has been a very long time) it’s one of my go-to, no-nonsense yet high-quality drams. It has sustained an excellent reputation over time, although there are always people that’ll believe everything was better in the old days.

Inspired By Warehouse 9

The distillery said it was inspired to create a cask strength version of their classic by visitor tastings in their ‘Warehouse 9‘ on Islay. While I have great experiences with a number of warehouse 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.

bunnahabhain 12 year cask strength closeup

Anyway, Warehouse 9 is were visitors making the pilgrimage to the distillery have been enjoying their whisky straight from the cask. There’s nothing like tasting whisky inside a warehouse (even though the cold, damp conditions should theoretically have an adverse effect), but now at least whisky drinkers around the world can try their Bunnahabhain 12 Years at Cask Strength.

“When people embark on a journey to Islay and try our whiskies straight from the cask, it creates so much joy”, explains master distiller Brendan McCarron. “But we understand that not everyone is able to make the trip. With this annual 12 Year Old Cask Strength release, we can give people around the world the chance to experience it themselves.”

Cask Strength From Other Distilleries

There are many distilleries that have a relatively affordable cask strength whisky in their core range. Some of them don’t have an age statement, such as the Aberlour a’bunadh, GlenDronach Cask Strength or the Highland Park Cask Strength. But Benromach, GlenAllachie and Redbreast all have an age or vintage on the label.

bunnahabhain 12 year cask strength coast

The benchmark is the Springbank 12 Years Cask Strength. They’ve just released their 23rd batch and while some are better than others, they’re all pretty stunning. If Bunnahabhain can get even close to the standard set by Springbank, we’re in for a treat. Interestingly, judging by these comments from McCarron it seems as if they’re going to full sherry maturation route.

“Not all whiskies work at cask strength and many whiskies don’t stand up to full maturation in sherry casks”, he says. “Bottling our 12 Year Old at cask strength intensifies the core characteristics of spice, cracked black pepper and cinnamon, but not at the expense of our spirit’s character. In fact, it enhances it. The mouthfeel and texture of the whisky increases and it shows off the balance of the spirit and the wood, but in a more concentrated form. This really represents Bunnahabhain in a bottle.”

Available In Just 9 Markets

The Bunnahabhain 12 Years Cask Strength will be available from November 18th in just nine international markets. Sadly not in the Netherlands, where I live, but you should be able to find a bottle if you’re residing in Switzerland, United States, Australia, Taiwan, China, UK, Bulgaria, Canada or Germany. I’ve inquired about the amount of bottles available, but no news yet. I’ll update as soon as I know something.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention the RRP, which will be £75. That’s on the higher end compared to other Cask Strength whiskies, so hopefully it’ll be worth it.

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