Review: Bunnahabhain Cruach-Mhona Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky / by Jason Hambrey

100% Malted Barley
Distiller Bunnahabhain (Port Askaig, Scotland)

Bunnahabhain was originally a filler for blended scotch whiskies, even distilling some spirit to be aged elsewhere off the island of Islay. However, now it is producing more heavily peated whiskies – many of which we see as single malts. The distillery has a number of large stills, which produce heavier whiskies because of their shape. Consequently, the character of the distillate is quite a bit different from the other Islay whiskies. Cruiach-Mhona means “Peat Stacks”, and was launched in 2010 as a duty free offering combining younger peaty whiskies and older sherry-cask whiskies (which originally were upwards of 20 years old! I’m not sure what is put into them now, but presumably they are also quite old). The whisky is bottled at 50%, non-chill-filtered, and non-coloured.

Review (2015)

  • Batch: 8

  • Bottling Code: P032853 L5 13:59 14097

  • Bottling Date: ~2014

Nose: Intriguing – reeds, dried apricot, light medicinal notes, biscuit notes with smoke and earth throughout, along with oak throughout the background. The earthiness is quite vegetal – like that found in potatoes, carrots, and lettuce – only without the other components of those vegetables. It’s sweet, and very lightly floral – vanilla, and honey. The main components – vanilla, smoke, and earth are working together but not that tightly integrated, and the nose dries out as it sits. Though there’s a lot going on, the depth isn’t quite there.

Taste: A bit acidic and ashy, with dried fruit and roasted lemons, and a touch of salt, especially on the finish. At the end, there’s a flare up of pepper, which fits in well. Reasonably sweet, as well. No flaws, here, but more complexity and intrigue wouldn’t go amiss. Tannins and spices are felt on the end with larger amounts in the mouth.

Finish: Fire blackened chickpeas, smoking fall leaves, apple skins, roasted malt, more vanilla, and a touch of tannins from the oak.

Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low, based on $107.