This week saw Feis Ile 2020, but this year it was a lot different, due to #Covid19 and social distancing. All the distilleries on Islay are shut down, and the island is empty of tourists.
Gladly some distilleries such as Bunnhabhain, Kilchoman, Laphraoig, Ardbeg etc, releasd their yearly Feis bottlings in time for the festival for fans to try along with their virtual zoom tastings.
Bunnhabhain offered two bottles this year, either as full sized 700 ml, or 30 ml sample bottles named as ‘Wee Drams’ to be enjoyed by those wishing to try this year’s offering along the virtual tasting without shelling out big bucks for the full sized bottled – very nice idea. I was fortunate enough to order both sets, and although my set did not arrive yet (stuck in bloody customs locally), I was able to source a set of the ‘Wee drams’ that fortunately arrived at Holy dram HQ just in time.
The firs whisky we’ll be trying is the 2002 vintage Madeira finish : To create this special release whisky, Bunnahabhain first selected a 14-year-old whisky which had been maturing in their coastal warehouse, then transferred it to hogsheads that once held Madeira sherry for a further 3 years. This was bottled at 53% abv and was sold for £199.
Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2020 vintage 2002 Madeira Finish , 53% , £199
Nose: A nice citrus fruit entry, mostly on ripe blood oranges (reminds me our Kilchoman Madeira finish, in some ways, of course, this is unpeated) , mandarins. There’s quite a lot of spice too – with ginger powder, nutmeg, and old dunnage warehouses, maybe dried figs leather, quite fragrant, and develops nicely with an addition of a few drops of water.
Palate: Starting sweet and spicy, with more of the gingery hotness, maybe some spicy cinnamon gum , white pepper and more of the figs, and maybe a slight sultana note, nicely balanced by the oak.
Finish: dry, Oak-y and bitter with dark chocolate and orange marmalade.
Conclusion: Very good stuff indeed, the Madeira adds a nice fruity, fig and orange zest, but I am missing some polished oak and some more wood for a 18-year-old whisky… I expected more, to be honest.
The second offering for this year’s Feis was a younger, peated Mòine (peat in Gaelic) finished in Amontillado sherry, vintage 2010.
Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2020 vintage 2010, Moine Amontiladdo finish, 56.9%, £100
Nose: Lovely sweet and oily stuff, with ample dried fruit in the form of dried sultanas, figs, and some dates, all engulfed by notes of tobacco boxes, quite dirty, and ‘springbank-y’ if you’d like.. peat reek and cough syrup, herbal at times, and even jammy. what a lovely nose!
Palate: Big and spicy on entry, with pepper, chilly – quite viscous and oily for a lovely mouthfeel. There’s more smoke, and more of the dried fruit we’ve experienced on the nose, some salt as well, and a drying tannin ending to it, chocolate and more earthy peat, some licorice and dry oak.
Finish : Very long. Smoke, dry wood, pepper, nutmeg, chilly, ash.
Conclusion: This one is very good indeed – everything you’d look for a peated young Bunny with a nice sherry edge. Loving it. For me, it’s a tad better than its older ‘brother’ in Madeira.
Summing it all up:
Way to go Bunna! You’ve done very well in this year’s special Feis. Both bottles are easy to like, but if you’re looking for VFM – that’s easily found in the Amontillado finish. It costs half, and it’s slightly better IMHO. Both are sold out now I suspect – but you can see many in future auctions I am sure… Two very different whiskies showcasing this great & underrated distillery.