Expression: 1988 ‘Kirsch Gâteau’
Age: unclear, 25 or 26 years old
Extra info: Bottled by Wemyss Malts, one of 442 bottles
Today I’m trying an independent bottling of Bunnahabhain with a bit of a peculiar name: Kirsch Gâteau. By the name itself I would expect lots of cherry and chocolate, anything less would be disappointing. But hey, what’s in a name? Bunnahabhain has on many occasions shown its character, especially in independent bottlings, which really can be quite lovely. This has aged in a Sherry Butt for over twenty years, so I’m preparing myself for a bit of a bomb here. A sample of this has been sent to me by whisky-buddy Norbert (thank you sir!), giving me an excellent chance to taste a whisky that I would normally not very likely buy on a whim.
Nose: Huge, sweet sherry straight away. Dark fruits. Chocolate covered raisins, cooked cinnamon pear. Rum cake. Slightly leathery, some almond and marzipan and some faint mint. With some water it becomes more fruity and fresh, and more oaky as well. Hardly any bitterness on the nose, quite a sweet one so far.
Taste: Very drying on arrival. A very clear salty note, with that thick, syrupy sherry sweetness. Almost reminiscent of soy sauce (in a good way). Quite a big bitter note now too; Coffee, dark chocolate and some spice (cardamom?). Black forest cake, nice oak notes. The fruits return at the end with cherry (there it is!) and blackberries.
Finish: Fruits at first, drying and then sweet. Coffee again after that, but a sweeter variety now (mocha?). The saltiness is there again, adding a maritime note. Caramel and (bitter) oak at the end add some length.
Overall: Heavily sherried, independent Bunna can be very interesting and this is no different. The salt/sherry combination is really quite odd and unconventional, but somehow works very well. Makes you want to come back for another sip. A bottle of this is quite expensive and I’m not sure if I would pay that kind of money (approaching the €200 mark), but this is a real treat to give a try.
Rating: 4 stars (87 points)