Exploring Cask Strength Whisky
Every year, whisky lovers from around the world make the journey to our distillery on the remote northern coast of Islay to sample and enjoy drams straight from the cask in Warehouse 9, We know not everyone can make the pilgrimage to Islay, so we have created our cask strength 12 year old whisky to give you the chance to experience a dram straight from the cask, whether you've visited our distillery or not.
Like the first bottle launched last year, the second edition in our 12 Year old cask strength collection is an undiluted celebration of our hugely popular Bunnahabhain 12 Year Old expression.
"Not all whiskies work at cask strength and many don’t stand up to full maturation in sherry casks but Bunnahabhain is different." Brendan McCarron, Master Distiller.
Why Bottle at Cask Strength?
Bunnahabhain is a robust and complex spirit and bottling our 12 Year Old at cask strength intensifies the core characteristics of spice, cracked black pepper and cinnamon, but not at the expense of our spirit’s character. In fact, it enhances it.
The mouthfeel and texture of the whisky increases, showing off the balance of the spirit and the wood, but in a more concentrated form.
This offers a beind the scenes peek into our spirit before it goes to our Master Blender, Julieann Fernandez, to work her magic to create our iconic 12 year old whisky.
The Differences between Edition 1 & Edition 2
We asked our Master Blender, Julieann Fernandez, to explain more about the differences between our first and second 12 Year Old cask strength releases. Here's what she had to say...
"Our single malts are natural products and a lot of the wonderful flavours enjoyed in Bunnahabhain 12 are a consequence of the cask wood extract being released into the spirit over the aging period.
With each cask being different, natural variation can occur from one batch to the next, however we take great care to assess the spirit from each cask individually to ensure the character of the spirit has not lost its identity.
With Bunnahabhain 12yo cask strength, we hand select the casks which make the batch, based on cask type and profile. We choose from a selection of first and second fill oloroso casks and balance with a small percentage of bourbon. As this product is cask strength, the strength naturally will vary – in 2021 the strength was 55.1% in comparison to this years release which is 56.6%. With the higher strength, some of the flavours appear to be more intense and concentrated – as this strength lowers, the myriad of flavours are shown more readily.
One of the main flavours we talk about with Bunnahabhain 12 is dried fruits, and this flavour tends to come over at higher strengths which is what I love about cask strength – it’s packed full of the richer flavours; the raisins, the nuts, the cinnamon spice. If you compare the batch from 2022 to 2021, I get more spice on both the nose and palate from 2022 and I also get a note almost reminiscent of orange marmalade. The dried fruit note is bold – there’s raisins, dates, figs and apricots, balanced with a lovely note of toasted oak.
The 2021 release for me was a bit more gentle and slightly sweeter; there were more notes of caramel, vanilla and honeyed almonds."