Single malt whisky - tasting notes

30 Nov 2012

Bunnahabhain 40 years

Tasting notes by Ruben Luyten - Posted in Bunnahabhain

Bunnahabhain has announced a one-off rare expression, a 40 year-old. Islay whiskies of such age are very rare indeed. The expression is made up of forgotten casks recently “discovered” in the warehouses and originally filled for Glasgow spirits merchants J. G. Turney & Son.

Each bottle has a nicely designed label, printed on a kind of copper leaf, and is presented in an oak gift box containing a secret compartment that reveals hidden designs replicating the ‘Journey of Discovery’. 750 bottles will be made available, individually numbered and hand signed.






Bunnahabhain 40 yearsBunnahabhain 40 yo (41,7%, OB 2012, 750 btl.)

Nose: very complex nose, with some of the late 1960’s fruits (orange, banana, tangerine) as well as soft vanilla and nougat with hazelnuts. Very soft coastal notes as well. Beeswax and heather honey. Faint floral notes and something chocolaty. Leather. Smooth and easily attractive if you want it to be, but showing plenty of layers if you dedicate some time to discover them. Mouth: still surprisingly sweet and rounded. Tropical fruits again (banana, mango, lime and pineapple), as well as some biscuity notes. Then moving towards honey notes. Macadamia nuts and almonds. Ginger. Very little oak. Finish: long, with a hint of salty liquorice and spices, as well as some nutty notes and oranges.


Of course the age and price set certain expectations, but they are nicely fulfilled. It’s nice to see the typical old Bunnahabhain fruitiness alongside some coastal notes, with virtually no wood. Around € 2500, which makes it a perfect Christmas gift for the oil barons among your relatives.

Score: 92/100

Bunnahabhain 40 years 4.5 Ruben Luyten 2012-11-30
  • Finnegan

    2, 500 Euros??? Ridiculous! Glenfarclas can knock whiskies of this age out at a fraction of that price.

  • Kris Cuypers

    Would love to try it, but not at 2.500 EUR. Have quite a lot of old Bunna’s myself. Would love to see how this compares to some of the +/- 40yo’s from some Independent Bottlers.

  • Rogier

    Prices like this actually make the Diageo Special Releases look like bargains. Especially something like the Brora 35yo, which only cost me a fifth of this. Recent Dalmores are also insanely priced.

  • WhiskyWalker

    And what about the price of the next 40yo release for 2013? 5.000, 6.000€????

  • David

    Why do whisky bloggers continue to publish these PR releases when they obviously have nothing to do with the whisky. Very good 40 year old Bunnies are readily available for 10% of this price from a number of independents so clearly nobody is buying this for the whisky. Please stop acting as PR shills and go back to writing about whisky.

  • WhiskyNotes

    I don’t really get that, David. I almost never publish a PR plug unless I’ve actually tasted the product. That’s also the case now. Should I shut up about it because most of us will never buy it? Should car magazines only write about Seat and Skoda? Yes the price is crazy, yes there are other old Bunnas at a fraction of the price, and personally I would also spend my money on these, but in the end it doesn’t change the quality of this product. At least it tastes good, which is not always the case for ultra-premiums.

  • Kris Cuypers

    Couldn’t agree more there Ruben. I love independent bloggers trying this stuff for real and giving us their honest opinion. If not the PR bullsh*t would be all we have to go by…

  • Karl

    The price refers not only to the quality but more to the rarity. How rare is this whisky? Is it one of the last casks so old from this distillery? If yes, the price is acceptable. We see lots of good and cheap whiskies on the shelves but they aren’t rare. Finnegan mentioned Glenfarclas. Let’s look at it closer. 40yo Glenfarclas is cheap but is widespread too. There will be a lot of this whisky in the future as well! But Glenfarclas 1953 bottled for Polish market is rare (the oldest vintage, selected by Serge, the book written by Ian Buxton etc) and high quality. It’s something different to Family Casks if we see it closer. 50yo Glenfarclas from 1955 sold on Bonhams for around £5700 is 7 times much expensive to the relevant Family Casks 1955 bottle! The price refers to the rarity. Look at the auction on Scotch Whisky Auctions where the miniature of Glenfarclas 1953 was sold for £310!

    How many casks of Port Ellen and Brora are lying in the Diageo warehouses? Are they really rare? Nobody knows. This is the clue to know how really rare is the bottle and then to discuss the price. The quality is important but the rarity is crucial. The importance of the distillery as well but this is another story.

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November 2015
« Oct    

Coming up

  • Glenlivet 1981 (#9468 for TWE)
  • Lagavulin Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Talisker Distillers Edition (2015)
  • Laphroaig 32 Year Old
  • Glen Grant 65yo 1950 cask #2747 for Wealth Solutions
  • Mortlach 1959/1960 (G&M Royal Wedding)

1933 notes by Ruben

WhiskyNotes - Ruben LuytenThis blog is my personal collection of impressions, written while searching for the ultimate single malt whisky.