Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Unpeated Islay With Added Peat: Bunnahabhain Toiteach

A few weeks ago I reviewed the Bunnahabhain 12yr and really enjoyed it, but wondered what this Islay distillery could produce in the way of heavily peated malt and noticed that they had a peaty number in their standard lineup. I resolved to grab a bottle when i was next doing a big order to give it a whirl.

The Bunnahabhain Toiteach breaks the trend for Bunna in being peated and it's name is a direct reference to that with Toiteach being Gaelic for smoke (you learn something new every day kids). It still maintains Bunna's general craft style approach with being non chill filtered and bottled at 46% which is something I love to see.

On the nose There is a clear and light brine-y peat coming through, smoky yet very ocean-like. This mixes with some fudge and caramel notes with a bit of citrus chucked into the mix. There are some honey-roasted and salty nuts in there too making this quite an intriguing little dram. This is definitely on the lighter side for Islay, the peat is fairly light, crisp and slightly refreshing akin to a sea breeze with the a tiny bit of smoke chucked into the mix. It's a very nice and light nose.

On the palate initial fruit, buttercream and vanilla sweetness gives way to pepper and spice, it really rises in a spicy crescendo before a crash of salty brine on the finish. This is bottled at 46% so is a little warm without water, however, is very drinkable and has a wonderfully thick and oily mouthfeel. Somewhere in the midst of the sweetness and the peaty brine are some more sour fruits, lemons, some pear perhaps as well. This malt has has a great balance between the sweet mellow notes and the peat that whilst not overtly smoky is very much a feature.

This is a really wonderful Islay for me, it had great body, complexity, a long finish and great balance between the peat and sweet fruit elements. I've complained in the past about Islays not being punchy enough (specifically with Lagavulin), but everything here seems to be so well put together and sits in harmony that it is a complete joy. I fully reccommend this malt, one of my favourites from recent times.

You can pick up a bottle from The Whisky Exchange or Master of Malt for just shy of £60.

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