This is the first of three very special whisky reviews. I very cheekily suggested to the distillery that they send me a free bottle after I blogged my review of the 25 year old. I wasn’t really expecting anything from them. They know I’m a loyal and committed disciple, so they don’t have to butter me up with freebies!
But they sent me three 20cl sample bottles. Three. And two of them have been a real treat. I’m saving the third for 31st of December, and I have high expectations.
I didn’t read about Bunnahabhain Toiteach until after I tasted it. I didn’t want any preconceptions. So I was surprised by the peaty aroma. It’s not something you expect from a Bunnahabhain malt. But there it was. Subtle, but still there. It doesn’t assault you, but it floods your nose, and even your mouth. I took in quite a few breaths, just to be sure I’d got it right, and each one renewed the aroma. Subtle, but full.
The colour is subtle, too. A very light gold, almost champagne colour which catches the light beautifully in our Thomas Webb Normandy crystal glasses (yes, we took out the best glassware for this).
On the first taste, the clean and fresh colour is reflected in the drink: there is no immediate flavour on the front of the tongue. But as it flows to the back, and the aroma fills the mouth and the back of the nose so you end up tasting the whisky over your whole mouth. It leaves the sharp sting of peppery taste on the front of the tongue and warms the throat beautifully with smoky peat.
Toiteach, I’m told, means ‘Smoky’ in scots Gaelic. The tasting notes say it has a sweet sherry influence. My takeaway thoughts weren’t about sweetness, sherry or smoke. The thing that stood out for me was how full flavoured the Toiteach was, without coming close to being overpowering. As well as drinking this yourself, my tasting partner Dimple enthusiastically tells me this would be the perfect gift for a woman who enjoys the flavour of whisky, but might find it a little too much.
I tasted it a second time a week later (mostly because I’d saved some). The second time around, there had been half a bottle of air for the whisky to interact with, and I found both the aroma and the taste to be stronger in peat. I’ve not known a drink to change in quite that way over such a short period before. I feel like I’ve had two for the price of one. Or in fact the price of none!
It’s been a long time since I tasted a whisky for the first time and knew it was going to be a permanent fixture in my Monk’s Bench. Thank you, @Bunnahabhain, if you could perhaps send more…?
I haven’t before now, but partly as a thank you to Bunnahabhain, and partly because I do think this is a bottle every whisky drinker should have, I’m going to add a link to the distillery shop. I’m not an affiliate, I won’t make any commission. It’s just good.
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