Bunnahabhain 2003 Pedro Ximenez Finish (2017)
This is one very popular release indeed, as it sells out instantly whenever it pops up online somewhere. That’s what happens with heavily sherried whiskies from reputable distilleries (hell, even from less than reputable distilleries). And this, my friends, is one hell of a sherried whisky.
The Bunnahabhain 2003 Pedro Ximenez Finish didn’t just receive a finish in, you guessed it, ex-PX sherry casks. When the liquid was re-racked into those sweet, sticky casks, it had already spent 11 years or so in 2nd fill Oloroso sherry casks. That’s sherry upon sherry maturation! I don’t know, would that maybe be overdoing it a bit?
Bunnahabhain 2003 Pedro Ximenez Finish (54,3%, OB, 2017)
Nose: Big notes of balsamic vinegar, as well as Demerara sugar and marzipan. It has a fun, slightly farmier side as well, with hints of straw, and touches of malt. But the PX influence is dominant, as further notes of raisin, blackcurrant and cranberry demonstrate.
Taste: Oily, syrupy stuff, and really big on the Pedro Ximenez flavours. Are we sure this is just a finish, and not an entire maturation? Makes you think they ‘forgot’ to empty the last few liters of the sherry out of the cask. Fudge, black forest gateaux, brown sugar and thick, dark, salted caramel. Some balsamic here as well, but man, this is almost as if they added some sugar.
Finish: A hint of cracked black pepper corns, to go with all of the above. Medium in length.
These are the kind of whiskies that I find hard to pin a score on. On the one hand it is full of flavour and incredibly rich. On the other hand there is barely any balance whatsoever, which I feel should be penalized. So I’ll just score it somewhere in between. Bit of a cop-out maybe, I know…
Photo: Master of Malt
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.