The Whisky Tasting Club

Day 7: Bunnahabhain open day

Miraculously the weather is holding up well, today was mostly sunny if fairly cold (being British I have to start with a weather report). I was rudely awoken at 6 am by arby barking at sheep who had passed right by the window (I left the garden gate open). Our cottage 1 mile out of Bridge End is on unfenced common land by the sea. Cows and sheep roam free from the beach to the land on the other side of the road. This is obviously a danger, in 2008 a farmer, his young son and an employee died tragically when they were forced into the path of an oncoming lorry after hitting one of their own cows on this road. Perhaps it should be fenced. 

Thanks to the tip off on we realised the bunna feis ile bottling would sell out quickly, so we headed down there, arrriving at 9:30 am.

 Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2010 bottling: 18 year old Pedro Ximenez Finish, 384 bottles, abv 51.4% cost £85. It tastes like, err, the bunna 18 with a sherry finish! What a marvelous review, I’d best write more I suppose. It has a light nose with a hint of bubble gum but the sherry is very obvious.  There is an initial smooth creamy flavour with sherry kicking in later and lingering on the finish. Slight metallic tint (but I think thats just my palate!). A  nice whisky, but perhaps the sherry finish has not completely integrated.

The drive from the main road to bunnahabhain is my favorite on the island, (at least it is when there aren’t people on it doing 15 mph). The paps of jura are a constant backdrop as the road winds through unspolit countryside, passing a loch. The road twists down to sea level, where the surprisingly large Bunnahabhain distillery sits behind a pebble beach. Unlike Caol Ila they had parking on site.

The  distillery buildings are traditional and they have a nice courtyard area which was full of visitors 

There are also several cottages for rent at the far end of the beach which would be ideal for a short tranquil retreat, but are in our opinion too remote for a longer stay. We queued up for the bottling and were in the last 20 people to get one.  Whilst in the queue the dog started getting restless, so I took him back to the car. Wanting to give him some exercise on the way, I jogged back, forgetting that he gets over excited when I run. The little bugger clipped my trailing leg and I went for a burton. Grazed my hands (like being a kid again), but worse banged my knee, 30 mins later I could not bend it. Its ruined our plans for further walks.

Anyway, bunna had lots of events on and ran a really good open day, second only to the Bruichladdich event on Sunday. Good food, nice burgers, scallops from the harbor inn (not as good as Bruichladdich who get the best scallops prize) and oysters (better than Bruichladdich, although I think they were the same guys, so work that out). They had a really good band on and a black bottle stall dishing out samples quite generously, later they dished out bunna too. There was a mini highland games and a craft fair. For whisky events there was a masterclass (fully booked very quickly), a cocktail class and a blending class. We did the cocktail class which was run by a sociable chap whose name I forget, and involved making 4 black bottle based cocktails.

1. Rob Roy: 2 parts whisky, 1/2 part red vermouth, 2 drops bitters. Stir with ice.

Basically a Manhattan with black bottle and without the cherry. Very nice and smooth, apparently palate cleansing, I’ll drink them between whisky tastings then!

2. Black Mule: 2 parts whisky, 2 drops bitters, squeeze and drop 1/2 lime, add ice and top up with ginger beer. Good long summer drink, we would have increased the whisky and lime content. Apparently they do not have ginger beer in most of europe, half the crowd had no idea what it was.

3. Black bottle smash: 1.5 parts whisky, 0.5 part Chambord, 6-8 mint leaves, 0.5 lemon squeezed and dropped, 3 shots pressed apple juice, dash of sugar spirit.  Shake with ice and strain into a short glass. Add sprig of mint and ice.

one for the ladies, but it was pretty nice.

4. Really rusty nail. A teaspoon of marmalade, 1 part whisky, 1 part drambuie, stir with ice, can add a bit of  lime to taste.

I surruptitiously doubled the whisky content since I’m no fan of drambuie. Pretty drinkable then. Didnt realise Angosturas bitters are owned by the parent company of Burn Stewart, so black bottle and cocktails is an obvious mix.

 All in all, hurrah for Bunnahabhain, you just have to love them. I’m now back at our place with my leg up not able to move much. Luckily michelle is looking after me and I also have 20 bottles of whisky to keep me company. hmmm, what shall I taste next? Maybe a supernova. Knee pain? What knee pain?

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