Saturday, September 1, 2007

Last Night's Tipple

Another dram of Bunnahabhain 12 year old last night. Kevin Erskine, proprietor of The Scotch Blog, has written (either there on in his book, I can't remember which) that he knew that he was becoming a whisky expert when he first spelled Bunnahabhain correctly without having to look it up. For me, the key step is not so much learning to spell the name correctly as it is to learn to pronounce it correctly: it's BOON-a-haa-ven. I'm almost as proud to know that as I am to know how to pronounce Bruichladdich (BROOK-ladd-ee). The comparison between Bunnahabhain and Bruichladdich is appropriate for reasons other than the similar difficulty of their names. They are atypical Islays in that they have typically been unpeated or only lightly peated since the 1960s. I have only ever tried the Bruichladdich 10 and the Bunnahabhain 12; but of those two, I prefer the Bruichladdich 12 by a substantial margin. On this second tasting, I still can't tell what the blenders at Bunnahabhain were trying to do. There's a little bit of everything, it seems: a little bit of smoke (yes, Letitia, smoke: this is what happens when you dry malt over peat fires), a little bit of body, a little bit of malt, and a little bit of sherry. Bruichladdich, on the other hand, is better-focused: malty, creamy, and fresh. Don't get me wrong: I'm not going to pour this down the drain. It's just that when I'm in the mood for another unpeated or lightly peated Islay malt, I'll buy the Bruichladdich 10.

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