Two VERY different Bunnahabhains, both from Feis Ile 2010

I’m going to leave the preamble to a minimum here as I’d like to let the reviews speak for themselves.

I will tell you — last year I got caught up in all of the online hoopla about Islay’s 2010 Feis Ile festivial (thanks be to many blogs and Mark Gillespie’s fantastic coverage through his WhiskyCast Feis Ile Podcasts).  It was addictive.

I was Sofa King jealous of all those who got to go to the Feis Ile festival last year!  Thankfully,  my friend Shai Gilboa (frequent guest blogger on Whisky Israel) was able to go to Islay last year during Feis Ile and he was kind enough to pass some samples onto me – thanks Shai!!

Bunnahabhain bottled by “Queen of the Moorlands” for the Islay Feis Ile festival, 2010 – Heavily Peated – 53.2%ABV£60

On the noseEarthy and filled with man-sweat; salty and slightly… off.

Burnt asparagus, salty green leafy vegetables, dead autumn leaves and mountain air fill the nostrils.

Moving on to things a bit more man-made (artificial, not the sweat)…

Think rubber bands, paper bags and the plastic strips that were once attached to Fruit Roll-Ups (the addition of fruit makes an appearance here).

Pared pears, baked to perfection.

With water, the nose dies out.

On the mouth Very tight and thin.

Less complex in flavor as compared to the nose.

Very rubbery and smokey with a bit of salt and dead grass.

With water the mouth feels gets super creamy but really doesn’t do anything to the flavor as far as adding complexity.

The exception being the addition of vanilla and a touch of pine.

Finish Smokey and full of salty fizz.

In sum The nose was really interesting and complex but sadly this one fell flat for me on every other level.

Bunnahabhain’s own special bottling for the Islay Feis Ile festival, 2010 – Pedro Ximenez finish – 51.4%ABV£150

On the nose Heavy sherry influence and I’m somehow reminded of sticky, wine influenced fudge.

Dried bananas and spiced black plums (heavier on the spice note than on the plum note).

Cinnamon coffee cakes with some cherry and blueberry jam.

A fantastically fun and gets-you-hungry kind of nose.

On the mouth Sweet fruits of the dried variety.

Watery mouthfeel yet not thin (perhaps like Jell-o water before it thickens).

Spiced fruit leather and vanilla bean.

Apricots, dates, dried cherries, nutmeg, cloves, a fruity fall-mix compote.

While this is all there and fun is seems to lack a robust power to it.

I guess I was hoping for the flavors to blast.  Instead, they are merely presented to my palate (yet perfectly balanced).

Finish Every taste bud is pinched and squeezed of all its moisture (read: dry/tannic).

Long with the addition of fresh berries.

In sum A wonderfully rich and balanced Bunnahabhain.  A perfect evening dram to enjoy amongst friends and good conversation.  This one is a win for me.