Bunnahabhain is set in a beautifully rugged location, in what someone once reliably informed me was “bandit country” on Islay. I’m guessing that somewhere along the lines, the folk at Bunnahabhain thought – “Hey, everyone who visits keeps asking about peated whisky. Let’s get us some of that action.” Or words to that effect, or likely nothing like that at all. Bunnahabhain has made a name for itself on largely unpeated whiskies, and the Toiteach is notably different from much of their range.
But there’s a lot of competition on the island for a good peated whisky. How does the Toiteach measure up against them?
Colour: light oak. On the nose: lovely, lovely sweet creamy peat. Crème brûlée. Sponge puddings. It’s not especially three dimensional on contemplation, but that doesn’t matter in the slightest. Touch of plum jam on the far end. Put it down and come back after a little while and there’s an interesting nuttiness.
In the mouth: gentle. Ever so lovely sweetness coming through on the middle notes. Chewy fruits – blackberry, stewing apples. Medium weight, not thick, but not zippy either. Just sits there nicely, gripping onto your tongue and letting the peaty sweetness trickly over. A fraction of Chinese Five-spice on the finish.
Let’s be honest, it’s not overly complex, this. But it really does not matter, because this presses some key taste sensations rather damn well. This is more leaning towards the lighter, Caol Ila quality than the other peated whiskies on the Island. Yet, it’s pretty distinct – which is actually saying something, given the rather crowded marketplace for peated beasts.
A bottle of this will cost just over £50. That’s probably about the right price in my book. It just not the best Bunnahabhain. Would you spent that £50 on this rather than another peated whisky from Islay? I’ll give that a shrug. It’s definitely worth a go.