Bunnahabhain was originally a filler for blended scotch whiskies, even distilling some spirit to be aged elsewhere off the island of Islay. However, now it is producing more heavily peated whiskies – many of which we see as single malts. The distillery has a number of large stills, which produce heavier whiskies because of their shape. Consequently, the character of the distillate is quite a bit different from the other Islay whiskies. Cruiach-Mhona means “Peat Stacks”, and was launched in 2010 as a duty free offering combining younger peaty whiskies and older sherry-cask whiskies (which originally were upwards of 20 years old! I’m not sure what is put into them now, but presumably they are also quite old). The whisky is bottled at 50%, non-chill-filtered, and non-coloured.
Nose: Intriguing – reeds, dried apricot, light medicinal notes, biscuit notes with smoke and earth throughout, along with oak throughout the background. The earthiness is quite vegetal – like that found in potatoes, carrots, and lettuce – only without the other components of those vegetables. It’s sweet, and very lightly floral – vanilla, and honey. The main components – vanilla, smoke, and earth are working together but not that tightly integrated, and the nose dries out as it sits. Though there’s a lot going on, the depth isn’t quite there. 25.5/30 (85%)
Taste: A bit acidic and ashy, with dried fruit and roasted lemons, and a touch of salt, especially on the finish. At the end, there’s a flare up of pepper, which fits in well. Reasonably sweet, as well. No flaws, here, but more complexity and intrigue wouldn’t go amiss. Tannins and spices are felt on the end with larger amounts in the mouth. 25/30 (83%)
Conclusion: The whisky is surprisingly soft for 50% – an enjoyable peated Islay whisky. There is a lot going on, and no major faults – though the depth could be upped a bit. 17/20 (85%)