I have a soft spot for the Bunnahabhain distillery (pronounced: Boona-Har-Vin). My first proper dram, when I was 17 years old and on holiday in Scotland, was a Bunnahabhain (yes, I know that was underage, but when you’re out in the middle of nowhere I’m certain whisky is a health benefit or something). I remember it being ‘very smooth’ such was the limit of my taste buds back then. However, 13 years later and I’ve not been impressed by the core bottling Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old.
Perhaps this sense of nostalgia caught up with me, as I was going on holiday again, so I decided to give their Darach Ur a go. It sounded very interesting: Darach Ur means ‘new oak’ in Gaelic, and it had been matured in virgin American oak casks (not something that has previously contained bourbon or sherry, as is the case with many whiskies). This, then, was a Bunnahabhain experiment, and I do enjoy whisky experiments.
Colour: heather honey, golden syrup. On the nose: massive punch of sultanas or raisins. Hint of vanilla. Lovely creamy notes, gentle salt, mulled wine.
In the mouth: lovely, velvety, sweetness of the dried fruits which balances very well with the bitterness of the malted barley. This is something ‘very smooth’ indeed (I’m channelling my 17-year-old self, but it genuinely is) and mouth-watering. Touch of oak, but not overwhelming. Nothing outrageously complex, but a marvellous, thick, treacly finish that ends on a bittersweet note with Turkish Delight.
There’s plenty going on here, and it’s a great dram. An earlier batch of Bunnahabhain Darach Ur scored very highly in Jim Murray’s Whisky Bible. I wonder if Bunnahabhain Darach Ur – Batch 6 will be available as a mainstream release? Currently, I think it’s only available in travel retail at around thirty-something pounds (no tax!) and bottled at 46.3%. I picked this up at the marvellous World of Whiskies at Heathrow.
Update: You can actually get this through normal retailers now.