The Whisky Making Process
We could spin you a tale of how our whisky is made from superior ingredients compared to other Islay malts, but as you know, the truth is that all good whisky starts in the same way.
Bunnahabhain’s welcoming taste comes from other factors, namely our choice of location. In this particular spot, it benefits from the breath of the bold sea on one side and on the other, the pure spring water of the underground Margadale River.
1. The Mash
With the barley brought across the seas to us now malted and lightly peated, it is mixed with the heated spring water in the mash tun. This artisan process produces a fermentable solution of the sugars in the malt called wort.
2. The Wash Backs
The next stage in the good ship Bunnahabhain is our Oregon pine wash backs. Here, fermentation takes place as the cooled wort and yeast react to produce a weak alcohol solution called wash. Now we can start the next stage of the story; distilling.
The third stage of our malt's tale starts as the wash is transferred to the wash stills where it is heated. As the liquid heats, it begins to evaporate. This evaporation rises to the top of the still, flows down the curved lye pipe to the condenser where it is cooled, and runs on to the low wines receiver. At this stage, the solution is still too weak and impure to be casked, so it is redistilled in a second still called a spirit still.
4. The Heart of the Spirit
The second distillation flows through the spirit safe, where our stillmen, acting as skilled editors of our whisky’s tale, watch for the elusive middle cut, rejecting the first and final parts of the run. The middle cut is stored in the spirit receiver for casking, while the rest is returned to the still to be redistilled.
5. The Casks
Our carefully chosen casks bring new character to our story and bless us with hints of their past adventures. Arriving at the distillery, our very own Long John takes delivery of the large oak vessels and moves them to the filling area. From there, they are individually inspected and, if a cask is imperfect, its story will end here.
6. The Bottling
Surely there’s no greater message on a bottle than Bunnahabhain. The tale of each bottle, the colour, nose, flavour and consistency are made up from several different casks, the marriage of which is the role of our Master Distiller, Ian MacMillan. He must match the elements and characteristics of many single casks to the unique taste profile of our welcoming signature malt.
7. The Unchill-filtered process
A dramatic twist in the tale: in a bold step we have removed the chill-filtration across all our single malts. Putting so much effort into producing the finest, most welcoming whisky possible, it seemed wrong to us to then sacrifice it for the sake of cosmetics. By leaving the flavour and texture in the bottle, we can guarantee an authentic, natural dram with the intensity you expect from us.
The final product
This is a liquid that, despite being surrounded by dramatic tales of seafaring, has an uniquely approachable and welcoming taste profile that is mellow and quietly confident due to our minimal peating.