Review 521: Bunnahabhain 1976 39 Year

bunnahabhain1976-39yoThis whisky is the fifth bottle be acquired with our Online Whisky Collective (Online Whisky Collectief or OWC). The acquisition of this bottle was a very rare opportunity made possible by Thijs Dijkstra (from Drankenspeciaalzaak Bij Thijs). We didn’t have to think about that for even a second and decided to buy this bottle of old, old Bunnahabhain. A Bunna that matured for 39 glorious years in 3 sherry butt’s: what can go wrong with that? NOTHING, I can assure you!

Let’s find out how this old Bunna performs in my glass.

What they write about it:

From Cadenheads, Scotland’s oldest independent bottlers a 39-year-old Bunnahabhain from their Small Batch range. Distilled in 1976, matured in 3 sherry butts and bottled in 2016. One of only 648 bottles. Bottled at natural cask strength (49.4%) without chill filtration or colouring.

Distillery:Bunnahabhain Distillery
Region:Islay
Location:Port Askaig
Owner:Burn Stewart Distillers
Founded:1883
Status:Active
Water Source:Margadale River
Stills:2 Wash stills
2 Spirit stills
Capacity:2.500.000 liter per year

Expression:Bunnahabhain 1976 39 Year
Category:Single Malt
Bottled by:Cadenhead - Small Batch
Age:39 Year
ABV (% Alc):49.4%
Non-chill filtered:Yes
Natural colour:Yes
Phenols (smoke):+/- 2-5 ppm on barley
Distillation date:1976
Bottle date:2016
Vintage:1976
Maturation:3 Sherry Butts
Cask number:N/a
Bottle number:648 Bottles
Bottle content:70cl

Colour:
Old gold / amber.

Smell:
A very restrained, elegant, delicate, well balanced and complex whisky with aromas of subtle sweet sherry, honey, fatty vanilla, dried fruits (figs, dates, apricots, peach, golden sultanas), delicate leather, subtle sweet tobacco, hint of antique polish, fresh prunes, grass, hay, hint of cardboard, restrained spices (ginger, white pepper, allspice, nutmeg), green apple, red apple, pear, tangerine, orange peel, ripe forest berries, green tea, summer fruit jam, boiled sweets, cedar wood, damp cellar, old books, wet hemp rope, sherry is getting stronger, marmite, roasted coffee beans, molasses, milk chocolate, bitter orange marmalade and old oak.

Taste:
A very delicate, rich, elegant, balanced and complex whisky with aromas of berries (red currants, blue berries, blackberries, gooseberries), tangerine peels, ginger, cinnamon, white pepper, allspice, nutmeg, lush sweet sherry, dried fruits (figs, apricots, plums, sultanas), a slightly soapy tone, boiled sweets, subtle sea salt, apples, pear,m acacia honey, grass, butter, mango, passionfruit, subtle tannins, cedar wood, rosewood, mineral tones (mainly chalk), earthy tones, brown sugar, bitter orange marmalade, lemon oil, grapefruit peels, hint of sulphur, mocha, old books, Virginia tobacco (slightly sour), toasted oak, cocoa powder and antique oak furniture.

Finish:
A long, rich and slightly drying finish with aromas of tannins, oak, backing spices, subtle sweet sherry, dried fruits, slightly sour tones, citrus peels (orange and grapefruit), honey, cocoa powder, mocha and more old oak.

Marks:
  • 9.3/10
    Smell: - 9.3/10
  • 9.4/10
    Taste: - 9.4/10
  • 9.2/10
    Finish: - 9.2/10
9.3/10

Conclusion:

The delicacy, balance and elegance of this dram is superb. It is very closed at the start but after enough aeration time (I let is sit in the glass for 1,5 hours before nosing it) it finally started to open up a little. All aromas are so well married that it is quite hard to fully analyse this dram. After quite some time warming the glass in my hands, the aromas started to separate a little and allowed me to get some of the individual scents. But after all this patiently waiting you’re treated with lush, intricate and old-fashioned flavours and aromas. This dram can keep me occupied (and quite happy mind you!) for several hours. So my advice is, be patient (very patient) with this one to be able to fully enjoy it.
All in all a superbly elegant Bunnahabhain expression from days gone by