24 drams till Christmas tasting #24: Bunnahabhain 1988 24 yo by Signatory Vintage

Bunnahabhain 1988 24 yo by Signatory VintageDram data:
Distillery: Bunnahabhain
Bottler: Signatory Vintage
Distilled: 10.10.1988
Bottled: 30.07.2013
Age: 24 years
Limitation: 588 bottles
Casks: refill Sherry Butt
Alcohol: 55,9%
unchillfiltered; uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
How fitting! A 24 yo single malt whisky to conclude the 24 drams till Christmas series! This better be a good one for a great finish or I’ll have to extend it to 25 days… The nose starts off slightly alcoholic but there’s greatness underneath! Classic European oak sherry cask matured whisky – post Paxarette! Spices up front – cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg. The cask is strong with this one (excuse the Star Wars pun…), no oaky notes, just letting the spices talk. Fast-forward 20 minutes of breathing time: Yep, that’s a spice king! (sorry, Wemyss 😉 ). Of course there are also notes of coffee, tonka beans, cocoa beans, 95% dark chocolate, burnt toffee with a slight toffee sweetness, red wine infused cigar tobacco, brazil nuts, old beeswax and wood polish. With water: slightly more waxy and wood polish notes and a tad sweeter. Not a beginner’s dram or for knocking back… The palate is dominated by alcohol at first, with spices coming through – polished and waxed oak, roasted cinnamon, cloves and allspice with roasted nuts. Thick and chewy, dark and moody, more on the dry than the sweet side (no Paxarette or other shenanigans, I told you!). Grandmother’s wardrobe, an old library with leather-bound books, cigar tobacco, fudge and toffee aroma without the sweet notes, sticky toffee pudding without sugar (huh?) and licking oak staves without being overly oaky (does that even make sense?). But there’s also a slightly fruity aspect – ginger and orange peel I’d say. With orange kernels! Let’s try adding a dash of water. Well, that reduced the alcohol but didn’t change the composition too much, perhaps a tad more fudge sweetness and dried oranges. The medium-long finish is – you guessed it – spicy with cloves and allspice accompanied by orange peel, ginger and a slight dark fruit sweetness.

Yep, that works as a dram for Christmas eve! Completely driven by spicy european oak, this Bunnahabhain entertains for a very long time. Dense, dark, moody, constantly evolving with the hard to describe dark, slightly waxy Bunnahabhain-note to it, even though it is cask-driven. It’s a shame that this style of malt is getting increasingly rare and ever more expensive, these days the sweet and american oak vanilla-dominated sherry style seem to be more “en vogue”…

Score: 89/100
(Nose: 89 Palate: 89 Finish: 88)

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