Bunnahabhain 23 Years Old 1989 The Rare Casks Release 2 (Abbey Whisky)

Bunnahabhain 23 Years Old 1989 The Rare Casks Release 2 (44%, Abbey Whisky, Refill Bourbon Barrel, 96 bottles, 2013)

  • 96 bottles @ 44% ABV, distilled 1989, bottled 2013, £72.95 for 70cl
  • Score 90/100

What They say:

The 2nd release in ‘The Rare Casks’ series by Abbey Whisky has arrived and it’s only right that we follow up the success of the 1st release with something exceptional and equally special. Casks from Islay have been like gold dust of late but we’ve managed to get our hands on a lovely smooth, peated Bunnahabhain, 23 years of age, from the magical Isle. Distilled in 1989, this special malt was aged in a refill bourbon barrel for 23 years before being bottled at natural cask strength of 44% vol. As with the 1st release only 96 bottles have been filled and made available for this limited edition release.

There’s a wonderful nose on this peated Bunnahabhain. Smooth liquorice flavour, followed by a combination of white pepper, smokey vanilla & warm soft spices.  Marzipan lingers along with more prominent grapefruit zest and citrus flavours. Fresh with a peaty depth reminiscent of the sea air on Islay.
Smooth peaty flavours coat your taste buds and the marzipan returns softer with hints of pepper, citrus, floral notes and a soft smokiness. There is a sweetness coming through as you draw air into your mouth, overly ripened apples, sweet scented smoke and salty sea air.
A wonderful dram (if we do say so ourselves). The natural cask strength of 44% is surprising given its age but once explored it reveals a delicate but perfectly balanced depth of flavour. Warning! This is a very moreish, easy drinking dram that displays all the wonderful characteristics you would expect from a peated Islay malt whisky.
As with all our bottlings, this Islay single malt Scotch whisky has been bottled in its natural form, at full cask strength, without chill filtering or colour additives.

What I say:

Yum, an old Bunnahabhain! I have tried several Bunnahabhain expressions including the distilleries own 18 Years Old and never failed to have been impressed with their style.


Pale straw gold


Nose strong ester sweetness, ripe bananas, overipe bananas and more bananas, light floral notes, toffee and honey sweetness and a delicate nutty scent I associate with pistachio kulfi [or pistachio gelato]


Palate smooth creamy honey, vanilla toffee leads to salted caramel and milk chocolate, beautiful! with water is like milk and honey


Slightly salty, bitter chocolatey/peat smoke finish mellows out after addition of water

Would I buy it:

Overall fantastic, subtle and complex, I could drink this all day long! I found the peat influence very subtle as usual with Bunnahabhain expressions, and the cask influence perhaps very minimal, or at least superbly incorporated and balanced. The price tag is a little towards my upper [sensible] limit but then again this isn’t a sensible whisky – this is really very special.

Bunnahabhain 23 Years Old The Rare Casks is available from Abbey Whisky.

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