23 May 2018

Islay Travelblog 7: Bunnahabhain Distillery

Have I already told you, that Bunnahabhain is my favourite Islay distillery? I probably did, but really.. I can’t wrap my head around it. I remember back when I started drinking whisky, Bunna looked like a pirate’s whisky to me, with its fat green bottle with a captain on it. Suits their style, being one of the two distillers on Islay who don’t use peat for their core range.

Unconventional and not afraid to do things a little different, I like that! However, the first Bunna’s we tried were peated ones, because we like to do things a little different too. Many of their whiskies are just incredible: Mòine Oloroso, #Toiteach, the 14yo PX finish from last year, just to name a few. And they’re all so different, Bunna certainly likes to shake things up a little, and so does the road you’ll have to take to reach it…

Still being stunned by Caol Ila’s great views, we drove through beautiful landscapes to visit Bunnahabhain. Many of you who have visited Bunna before know how bad the roads are, especially around the building site of Ardnahoe, which we drove past. It’s all part of the experience. It was beautifully sunny, so we were able to get a good glance of the isle of Mull in the distance. Driving up and down (and sometimes not even knowing the difference), we arrived at the distillery, lying by the azure blue water and the Paps of Jura, which are creating a stunning background. You thought Laphroaig, Ardbeg and Lagavulin have good spots? Think again, Caol Ila and Bunna are the great winners on this terrain.

While being awed by the paradise we were in, we almost forgot we came here for a tour and tasting. Leah, living here on the island, was our guide and immediately took us inside. Bunnahabhain isn’t the first name that comes up if you think of Islay, so you’d expect small equipment. Wrong! Have you seen their mash tun? It’s huge! And the funniest part is, every thing is leaking and creaking, unpolished and yes… pirate-like. Same goes for the outside, it’s like a giant pirate fortress (it’s my imagination speaking). When arriving at the still room, the smell offered a different experience than the other Islay distilleries. Incredibly sweet, like they are cooking fruits. It’s almost the same as nosing the PX Finished edition (check out our review from march 19). .
Funny enough, everything is almost exactly what we expected to be when we started discovering Bunna: old squeaking warehouses and half decayed barrels that fall apart, bringing you some full robust flavours. Now, it isn’t really that, but there’s a reason Dion calls me a dreamer. We hope most of this spirit won’t be gone soon, with their announced 11 million pounds renovation.