Fèis Ìle 2021 – Bunnahabhain, Warehouse 9

Fèis Ìle 2021 – Bunnahabhain, Warehouse 9, Tasting Notes

As you may have seen from our previous blog posts, the Distell brands (Tobermory, Deanston, and Bunnahabhain) have been hosting a variety on virtual tasting events for the last 12 months. We have been desperate to go to one of the Bunnahabhian sessions but unfortunately the dates have not aligned. Until now…

Fèis Ìle 2021 – The Islay Festival

In order to celebrate Fèis Ìle 2021 the Bunnahabhain distillery hosted two virtual tasting sessions, as well as creating a special playlist. The first tasting features a number of casks from Warehouse 9; with the second a sneak peak at their specific Fèis Ìle bottlings. We have not previously tasted many expressions from Bunnahabhain so were very excited to try a number of their more limited drams.

Virtual Tasting – Warehouse 9

Our hosts for the afternoon were Billy, Rodney, Colin and David. Each of them appeared to be joining us from a different location, which is slightly different to how the Bruichladdich and Kilchoman tastings have been. Nevertheless, the chit-chat and general banter between the presenters was fantastic, making the participants really feel like you were in the room with them.

With 150+ watching the facebook live at any one moment, it was a very chatty event, with great questions and tasting notes coming in the through the comments. Although virtual, it felt like a good match to their typical Fèis Ìle Warehouse 9 tastings where they have 25 to 30 people doing tours, five to six times in one day.

These are the ‘special casks’ the ‘one-offs’ but I very much appreciated their sentiment that this whisky is for drinking. Another fantastic cask will come along, and it’s much better to enjoy the spirit than to just collect the bottles!

Anyway, on to the tasting notes …

2007 Bourbon Barrel – 55.7%

Bourbon barrels are not the typical maturation style of Bunnahabhain – opting for more fruity, sherry flavours. This particular sample is a 13 y/ou Heaven Hill hogshead; apparently a very typical example of what the Bunnahabhain spirit tastes like when matured in a bourbon cask.

Nose: tropical fruit, vanilla, lemon curd, citrus peel, quite light and creamy and fresh, some floral elements kicking about
Palate: pineapple, vanilla, honey, there are some nice oaky notes in there too and a little bit of peppery bite, meadow flowers
Finish: very oily, great coating in the mouth, sugary sweetness grows as you drink

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Lovely dram to start with. Brilliant straw colour. The sweetness is quite understated and balanced really nicely with the oak from the barrel. Although its 55.7% ABV we didn’t feel the need to add water, as it was lovely and fresh in the mouth.

2003 Re-Charred – 45.5%

Known as the ‘enigma cask’ this particular cask arrived at the distillery with little to no information outside of the fact that it was re-charred. With no markings, identification was tricky. Looking back at past records they were able to discover that the cask was originally filled at 58% ABV, lower than their normal filling strength, which helps to explain the relatively low ABV now.

Nose: butterscotch, toffee, banana – like banoffee pie
Palate: creamy, milk chocolate, pineapple, tropical fruits, banana, milky porridge, citrus zest
Finish: very smooth, sweet, creamy – lovely and warming as you continue to drink

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

This is such an interesting dram, feels very decadent almost like a pudding. Feels like it would be well suited to damp Autumn evening spent chewing the fat around a fire-pit with friends. We think this is beautiful and would happily purchase a full sized bottle, but unfortunately you can only grab one from the distillery!

Wine Hogshead – 57%

From a Spanish winery, once known for having the largest concrete building in the country – a great place for storing maturing wine barrels!

Nose: soft, mellow, understated sweetness, rich, vanilla cream, light spice, some dryness too
Palate: delight, sweet and delicate, lightly fruited, honey, berries come through in later sips, final sips bring an element of chilli
Finish: warming with a light pepperiness, weirdly some tobacco smoke (although its an un-peated dram!)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The difference between the nose and the palate on this was a little bit crazy. The development as you sip is also quite stark, with tannins and pepperiness coming through more as time goes on. Chilli heat building as you sip is unexpected, but very nice. Would thoroughly recommend adding a couple of drops of water to enhance the sweetness, and bring out the caramel flavours – balance the chilli heat very nicely.

2013 Oloroso – 60.2%

Oloroso is a key part of the standard Bunnahabhain maturation process. This is somewhat of a ‘hero cask’ – a Warehouse 9 one off – keeping a very high ABV and picking up a lot of Oloroso flavours despite being a young age.

Nose: powerful, rich, deep, darks, tonnes of stewed fruits, smothered in dark chocolate, sultanas, currant, raisins
Palate: creamy, rich, dark fruit and nut chocolate, feels like Christmas desert in a glass, so moreish – dances in your mouth
Finish: slightly drying on the tongue, but coats the rest of the mouth beautifully – so deep, so many flavours to find

Rating: 5 out of 5.

An absolutely stunning dram – I could drink gallons of this stuff. The depth of flavour for the young age is magical. Continuing to develop and deepen with every sip. It took a lot of self-will to save half of the dram for the other half of The Dram Duo to taste. Delightful.

This was a fantastic finish to a Friday at work; the best way to welcome in the weekend. Hearing the hosts talk about their favourite Fèis Ìle experiences, as well as their favourite drams from Warehouse 9 just makes us desperate to get over to Islay to visit the distillery. Please do let us know your favourite Bunnahabain whiskies in the comments below!

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