[Review] Bunnahabhain - 8 years old The Macphail's Collection (Gordon & Macphail)

Apart from my post about the Caol Ila 19 from the Old Malt Cask range, I haven't actually reviewed anything more from independent bottlers. Today, I am going to change that with a bottle from Gordon and Macphail and their Macphail's Collection range. It is an 8 years old Bunnahabhain, but unlike the standard 12 I reviewed a few months ago, this one is "heavily peated". 
If you are familiar with the Bunnahabhain distillery, you will know than despite being located in the North East of Islay, the single malt they produced is mostly unpeated. In my mind, it has this very distinctive Christmas cake nose and taste, rich, full of sultanas and dried fruit notes. Every now and then, they do release some peaty whisky with bottles like the Toiteach or Ceòbanach. I have never tried any of these before, so peaty Bunnahabhain is a first for me.
As far as the Macphail's Collection range is concerned and according to the Gordon and Macphail's website, it is "a small and exclusive range of fine single malt scotch whiskies from distilleries throughout Scotland. Currently the distilleries bottled in this range are Bunnahabhain, Glen Scotia, Glenglassaugh, Glenrothes, Glenturret, Highland Park and Tamdhu." The single malts are presented at 43% Abv and mainly bottled according to vintages despite some being released with an age statement like this Bunnahabhain. 


As mentioned previously, this Bunna' was bottled at 43%. It was matured from a refill sherry butt. As far as colouring is concerned, nothing is written on the label but it is a very pale gold colour so I'll hope it is free from E150, and the same applies to the chill-filtration in terms of it being mentioned. When I added some water to the whisky, a faint Scotch mist appeared leading me to believe the chill-filtration was not excessive.

Nose: When I just opened the bottle, I got sweet and peaty/smokynotes with some salt/iodine, bread dough and earthy vegetal. With time, I have started to pick up more fruity notes, citrus in particular.

Palate: Smoky peat and sweetness again, vanilla, fruity too with some mango, peach, pineapple, and some toffee hints. Very nice, but again, a bit of time and air did a lot of good to this dram in my mind!

Finish: Medium and quite smoky with some earthy peat smoke wrapped up in barley sweetness.

With water: The nose loses a bit of the smoke and gains some salted caramel notes and hints of milk chocolate and aniseed too. The peat is more mellow on the palate with the milk chocolate and aniseed becoming more present. The savoury smoke and sweet barley reappear to linger on the finish.  After a couple of minutes, I am left with some semi-sweet ash notes. Delicious...!

I must admit than after having just opened the bottle, I wasn't 100% sure about this dram but it has now been opened for a few weeks and the more I go back to it, the more I enjoy it! I noticed that the shop I bought the bottle from (Aston's of Manchester) had a few other bottles from the Macphail's Collection including a Highland Park 8 years old and a Balblair 10 years old, both for around the same price (£32) so I might get tempted...


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