Bunnahabhain distillery has unveiled its oldest single malt to date – the 46 Year Old, “Eich Bhana Lìr” – meaning “The great waves of the God Lìr”.
During the winter months, the distillery warehouses, situated close to the sea on the rugged north‐eastern coast of Islay, are often enveloped by the raging seas. Bunnahabhain 46 Year Old is named after the God Lìr, the powerful ruler of the sea in Gaelic mythology, who used his great white waves to wash ashore his most precious gifts.
To celebrate the release of this fine whisky there was an exclusive tasting that took place at the Soho Hotel recently.
I unfortunately had prior engagements so couldn’t attend, but as the old saying* goes ‘when you can’t go to the dram, let the dram come to you’.
(* I made that up)
The kind folk at Bunnahabhain kindly brought their tasting to my work at lunchtime to give me a private tasting with Andrew Brown, distillery manager for Bunnahabhain .
It was a special tasting as I was able to learn all about the distillery and the work that goes into the whisky in a one on one style personal tasting.
Andy took me through 3 different whiskys which he brought with him
The first up was the 46 year old Single Malt Whisky. The latest launch from Bunnahabhain and their oldest single malt to date.
Matured in a refill cask in their warehouse 4 on their shore front, since 1969, this is a celebration of the sea and its influence on Bunnahabhain.
With just 198 bottles available, Andy was sure these would be snapped up quickly, and quite rightly so.
The colour of the liquid was a deep gold with a slight orange peel and honey on the nose.
I found the Whisky to be smooth, silky and I really picked up on the citrus, honey and a hint of salted caramel.
As Andy took us through his findings it was amazing to hear the different flavour profiles. From the tasting you could instantly see why this single malt will not be around for long. A well balanced and and enjoyable whisky like this will be snapped up quick. In fact, it may already be sold out.
The 46 year old Eich Bhana Lir retails at around £5,000 a bottle.
As we had time with Andrew before he had to head back to get ready for the event, he also brought two other whiskys with him for us to try.
Next was the 2004 Moine Brandy Finish.
This was something very interesting, as it was they first time they used brandy casks to finish Moine, the name for their peated whisky.
By finishing the whisky for three years in brandy casks they married the rich grape and dried fruit flavours with the nutty sweet smoky character of Moine.
This offered something very different to what we are usualyl used to with peppery notes and hints of dried fruits on the nose, those flavours also came through on the palatte alongside a finish of sweet smoke, making it a perfect suggestion to pair alongside a cigar.
The 2004 Moine Brandy Finish is priced at around £80.
Last up and by no means least was the Bunnahabhain 2003 Pedro Ximénez Finish.
This was an especially rich malt matured in second fill sherry casks followed by three years of finishing in first fill Pedro Ximénez butts.
The PX grape creates a very rich dark desert sherry. This infuses with our whisky while our whisky matures.
In terms of tasting profiles, expect the following:
Nose: Toffee, sweet dried fruit, nuts and chocolate.
Palate: Syrupy and smooth, mouth filling Pedro Ximénez influence, notes of sweet raisins and sultanas, honeyed nuts, rich toffee, and subtle creamy chocolate.
Finish: Sweet dried fruit, long and lingering finish.
I remember thinking this should not taste how it looked as it resembled an almost syrupy texture which you would not associate with whisky, however those sweet raisins and sultanas really came through on the palate alongside a subtle creamy flavour. Something I think that could work well with a Partagas Mille Fleur cigar.
The 2003 Pedro Ximénez Finish is available for around £85
It was a fantastic opportunity to have real one on one time with the man that makes this beautiful liquid come together.
If you manage to get a bottle of the 46 year old Single Malt, let us know your thoughts.
Here is a video our friends at Bunnahabhain put together to celebrate the launch of the 46 year old.