Bunnahabhain 12 years Review

Bunnahabhain 12 Years Review

Bunnahabhain 12 years is the standard bottling for Bunnahabhain and it’s a wonderful whisky that shows the beauty of a well crafted spirit. Founded in 1881 Bunnahabhain resides on the the north end of Islay, along with Caol Ila, and is a beautifully done, un-peated, style of Islay whisky. It’s a distillery that seems to be doing better and better things as the years go on.

They release NAS whiskies that are actually pretty good (we’ll do those at some future point in time) and in 2010 instead do reducing their proof from 43% they did the opposite and increased it! Some bottlings were 40%, but a good amount were 43 and regardless they all got upgraded to 46.3% and if they were chill-filtered before they no longer were. That’s right, everything Bunnahabhain does right now is bottled at 46.3%, non-chill filtered and at least the Bunnahabhain 12 years is natural in color. How cool is that? This is how whisky should be done.

Bunnahabhain 12 years Info

Region: Islay, Scotland

Distiller: Bunnahabhain
Mashbill: 100% Malted Barley
Cask: ex-bourbon & ex-sherry
Age: 12 years
ABV: 46.3%

Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $50

Bunnahabhain 12 years Review

EYE
Amber

NOSE
Earthy malt, apple cider spice, sherry-like dried dark fruit, cocoa and a frosting sweetness with a touch of orange peels. This would make one hell of a dessert.

PALATE
Earthy malt, sherry, apple cider, cocoa, dried fruit, frosting sweetness and bits of butterscotch, orange peels, nuts and a touch of smoke make for an interesting flavor profile.

FINISH
Long fruity fade complimented with notes of malt, cocoa, spice and a touch of smoky char.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Great balance, round full body and a heavy oily feel.

OVERALL
Bunnahabhain 12 years is great. I could drink this any day without question! It’s balanced, it has a decent complexity, it carries a nice weight from being non-chill filtered and it’s delivered at 46.3% which is perfect for sipping. This is just an all around nice whisky and I’m a bit upset at myself for taking this long to get to it for a serious review.

It’s fascinating just how much the Bunnahabhain 12 years is improved over the G&M Bunnahabhain 8 years; side by side they don’t really feel like the same whisky. If I were tasting them blind I don’t know if I’d guess that they were from the same distillery. This is a good, tasty, standard release from an under-appreciated Islay distillery.

SCORE: 87/100 (B+)

Bunnahabhain 12 Reviews - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 87
  • Palate - 87
  • Finish - 87
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 86

Summary

Bunnahabhain 12 years is a great dram from a good distillery and well worth its asking price.

Bunnahabhain 12 Years Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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11 Responses to Bunnahabhain 12 years Review

  1. I used to love this whisky in the nineties and early noughties. I even turned my Japanese father-in-law onto it to the point where it became his favourite malt. Then the distillery changed ownership (and bottle design – shame) and somehow the whisky also seemed to lose its fresh sea bite and morph into something fruitier and altogether less bracing. I haven’t bought a bottle in ten years, so I’m glad to hear it back. Shall pick up a bottle on my next run to the Yamaya liquor store her in Tokyo and check it out.

    • Hey Martin,

      I’ve never had any releases from the 90’s, but I’ve had some from sometime in the 00’s and thought it was a bit weak so I think I know what you’re talking about and this is definitely better than that. Much richer.

  2. I was gifted a bottle of this about a year ago. I was not that excited as I had a bottle of the old version years ago and didn’t like it at all. To my surprise this newer version is not only better, but a lot better, so I can understand the B+ rating you give it. The old one was a C at best.

    • I’ve had some of those old 40% chill filtered BUnny 12s and I agree with you Robert. They’re weak and unremarkable whiskies. Ever since they upped the proof and stopped chill-filtereing its become a much better whisky.

  3. Sitting in her study after an evening with my 3 sisters reminiscing, and sipping this 12 YO, which I bought to open with my bro-in-law because my surname, Hain, makes up a third of “Bunnahabhain”.

  4. Okay, got me bottle of the new Bunny 12 un-chillfiltered 46.3% as planned today (Bon holiday here this week). Opened it with big anticipations of tasting that classic peerless, bracing, salty, dry, peatless Islay Bunny flavour that I first fell in love with in the 90s, and get… Dalmore 12. Hang on, maybe I’ve mixed up the glasses. No, definitely the Bunny, but nothing like what I remember. Shall keep looking for one of the old squat bottles in obscure Japanese liquor stores (and you would not believe what you can find in these places – Flora & Fauna Glenlossie bottling for $35 – come on!). By any other measure a fine dram, but a long way off the old Bunny.

  5. Enjoyed this expression quite a bit, Josh. It’s not big and bold, but it checks all the right boxes. Solid B+, for sure.

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