Bunnahabhain 1986 30 Years Old (North Star Spirits)
North Star Spirits is a relative newcomer, but in that short period of time this independent bottler has released some stellar whisky, most recently an absurdly well-priced 40-year-old blended malt.
Last year however, founder Iain Croucher (formerly from A.D. Rattray), made a big splash when he gave us an extremely well-received Bunnahabhain. And by that I mean 92 points well-received from Serge Valentin. You know that when he gives his stamp of approval, people take notice. Now, finally, I get to take a closer look at it myself.
Bunnahabhain 1986 30 Years Old (52,5%, North Star Spirits, 84 bts.)
Nose: Quite pungent. A tad lactic, accompanied by a rush of oak, before moving on to sour notes. Vinegar-y almost. Freshly squeezed lemons, a few apricots, and some honey as well. Somewhat spicy too, think chili peppers. Becomes sweeter when it breathes for a while.
Taste: This is where this Bunnahabhain shines. Mature, but never tired and always vibrant. Restrained oak, with a very soft note of ginger. There’s sweet honey, apple crumble, and apricots, as well as white grapes. Loving this, a lot!
Finish: Medium in length, somewhat dry, with sweet fruits.
In my experience, it’s rare that the palate outperforms the nose, but that is the case here. I’d say the nose is just a bit too sour for my liking (still very good though), while the palate is just insanely pleasant.
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.