This particular bottle comes from Signatory's Cask Strength collection and was aged in an ex-bourbon hogshead for 13 years.
Many thanks to Dave Worthington of Whisky Discovery for a sample.
|C/O Whisky Discovery|
Nose: rather closed, hints of malt and dry peat smoke, a touch of oak, very light fruit/floral/vanilla, cinnamon, a little green and vegetal. After adding a few drops of water, it opens up quite a bit to give much richer malt, toasted grain, less peat, more integrated wood, and nutty vanilla sugar cookies, and some industrial oiliness like gasoline or diesel.
Taste: thick and rich cask strength sweetness, very malty, citrus, a hefty dose of oak, dry peat smoke, bourbon barrel caramel, and a bit of vanilla, a touch of sourness throughout. After dilution, it's sweeter and has a thicker body with more clear bourbon barrel influence, peat and salt wait until the very end to pop out, almond cookies mid-palate, there's a touch of anise at the back, a little rubbery, and some fruit compote riding through.
Finish: dry, woody, a touch of peat
This reminds me an awful lot of Laphroaig Cask Strength. There's the same thick sweetness followed by bone dry peat smoke. In fact, if you enjoy Laphroaig, I can fairly confidently say that you would enjoy a bottle of 1997 peated Bunnahabhain. Alternatively, give Bunnahabhain's new Toiteach a try, which is a mix of younger peated whisky and older sherry casks.
Zooming out, I can also see how this whisky would be great blend fodder. The smoke counterpoints well with the sweet malt and would play nice with grain whisky to add some more sweet vanilla to the mix, especially if you can toss in some sherry cask malts as well. While I don't have this particular bottle, I do have another 1997 peated Bunnahabhain from Signatory that I'm looking forward to both drinking by itself and using to make my own blends.