Friday, 5 August 2011

A Lesson in Age - Bunnahabhain 31 Year

There is something decidedly aspirational about age. When I ran around the playground on my first day of school I thought that the 11 year olds in the final year looked positively glorious in their twilight years. Wisdom and experience seem to exude from them like a halo of knowledge. They appeared to sweat a canny ability to interpret the world with an oracle-like divinity. When I reached senior school the 16 year olds became my idols. I was only eleven, what could I understand of sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll. These acne scarred veterans of the GCSE campaign were prophets of the word on the street, of that mystical 'cool'. I turned sixteen then eighteen and so on always aspiring to be older, always seeing the greener grass on the other side. Until I realised with age comes more worry and uncertainty, so I thought to hell with it, I'm happy as I am. However this pursuit of age is as applicable to whisky as it is to life. The debate roars on the quality of aged whisky. Are we chasing the flavour or the heritage? In a number of blind tastings I have damned many highly aged whiskies to my shock and horror. So maybe things don't improve with age as much as I'd like? I have however found one whisky that I think benefits enormously from long ageing, not that I think younger expressions are poor by any means, and that is the Bunnahabhain.

Bunnahabhain 31 Year Old
47.9% - Bottled by Single & Single - Sherry Cask
Nose: Rich orange citrus opens the symphony with sweet vanilla harmonising perfectly. Light brown sugar arrives at the chorus with a touch of dry Somerset cider.
Palate: Full is the word here, that 47.9% ABV really gives this aged whisky the force it requires to drive through a brass section of dried fruits.
Finish: The finish is long with a cadence of Demerara sugar and treacle that play out for hours.
Overall: A bloody brilliant whisky. Layers of flavour and complexity coupled with a lesson in balance, structure and length. In a word - perfect.

Get it here.

1 comment:

  1. Very well said. Age isn't everything, but it certainly adds to the charm of a dram that can boast both heretige and flavour.
    I recall Glenfiddich 30 year is one such delight though I have found few others. I'll certainly be giving Bunnahabhain 31 yr a go following your glowing review.