Thursday, May 21, 2015

Whisky Review: Chieftain's Bunnahabhain 10 Year 2001/2012 Cask #466

Chieftain's is a line of single cask whiskies from Ian Macleod, an independent bottler located on Skye that also owns Glengoyne and Tamdhu.

This particular whisky was distilled at Bunnahabhain in September 2001, aged in what I presume was a fresh sherry cask #466, then proofed down to 46% for bottling without coloring (not that it needs any) or chill filtration in August 2012 with an outturn of 778 bottles (I did the math and that's not unreasonable for a 500 liter butt).

This was one I sampled at the Highland Stillhouse and many thanks to the staff who hunted around for a good fifteen minutes trying to find this bottle for me.

Chieftain's Bunnahabhain 10 Year 2001/2012

Nose: sherry dominates, malt peeks around, a little coastal character, savory undertones, creamy, cured meat, a touch of chocolate, gunpowder, a bit of orange peel. After adding a few drops of water, it is still overwhelmingly sherried but somewhat more mellow, the malt is more noticeable, and it's closer to the OB 12 Year.

Taste: thickly sherried, malt is almost invisible, nutty, baking spices in the middle, peppery oak grows at the back, and it becomes sweeter overall with time. After dilution, it becomes sweeter with more mellow sherry, the malt becomes a bit more clear, and the nutty character is increased.

Finish: sherried/oaky chocolate, very little malt, light coastal character

Unlike the Maltman Bunnahabhain, this one does not have any overt flaws. Instead it's just completely overwhelmed by the cask, with only hints of distillery character visible underneath the heavy blanket of sherry. Admittedly, that is a popular style these days, but this doesn't have the power of cask or batch strength releases like Aberlour A'Bunadh or the finesse of something like Glendronach Revival. So I feel like this would have been better either bottled at full proof or left to age long, so that they sherry could integrate more with the spirit. Admittedly, when they were able to sell these bottles for $70-90, I can't blame them for moving stock out the door, but I won't be grabbing a bottle for myself, no matter how much I usually like sherried Bunnahabhain.

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