Two young Bunnahabhains, peated vs. unpeated

Like yesterday’s duo of Caol Ila whiskies, today we’re trying two Bunnahabhains. Yesterday the comparison was in the differring alcohol percentages, today those are the same, but one whisky is peated, while the other one is more to the traditional Bunnahabhain recipe without peat.

In the grand scheme of things, I prefer the unpeated Bunnahabhains. That might not necessarily be due to the peating itself, but to the fact that most unpeated Bunnahabhains I try are much, much older and far more refined than their peat-bomb siblings.

There’s one tiny uncertainty in these drams, namely that one has a vintage 2006 label, so it might be 8 or 9 years old (it was bottled in 2015). The other one is eight years old and also bottled in 2015. Therefore it might be from 2006 or 2007.

bunnahabhain20200620gm202015Bunnahabhain 2006, Unpeated, G&M The MacPhail’s Collection, 43%

An incredibly malt focused nose on the first sniff. Lots of barley. A bit of dryness and some very clean oak. The kind of oak you get in a wood shop. Sponge cake crust, and a tiny hint of salt.

Gentle, but a bit of spirity heat is present. Again, dry and very focused on the malt. A bit more intense than I’d expected of 43%. Barley, husks, some straw. A bit earthy as well with, again, a bit of salt. Does get a bit oily with some swimming.

Quite straight forward, with whisky being a product of barley and oak. This one represents both pretty well. Again, a bit heavier than before, there’s a build up here. Not overly long on the finish.


gm20bunnahabhain20820yearsBunnahabhain 8yo, Peated, G&M The MacPhail’s Collection, 43%

Some sharp smoke hits me first. It also maskes the other scents until you really get in there. Dry with some heather, sea weed and barley. Minor hints of vanilla. Some spirity notes as well.

The palate is pretty sharp because of the sharp smoke. Very dry and cutting on the tongue. Some barley, vanilla, oak and smoky flavors.

The finish is even more smoky. Truly a kiln fire up close. Very typical Islay smoke and in a way, quite unique to Bunnahabhain, in a way.


I can’t really pick a favorite from these two. Like yesterday they’re pretty simple and straight forward drams, and they highlight two sides of the, also once again, eastern Islay distillery very well.

They are also pretty close in price. The unpeated version comes in at 42.50 and the heavily peated one at 37 euros. Quite nice prices if you ask me!

Thanks to Gordon & MacPhail for sending these samples! Even more so to be able to do a comparison!


About Sjoerd de Haan-Kramer

I'm very interested in booze, with a focus on whisky. I like to listen to loads of music and play lots of Magic: the Gathering, and board games too. I'm married to Anneke, have two daughters Ot and Cato, a son Moos and a cat called Kikker (which means Frog, in Dutch). I live in Krommenie, The Netherlands.
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1 Response to Two young Bunnahabhains, peated vs. unpeated

  1. Mark @ Malt says:

    I quite liked the 8 year old (though I never got around to reviewing it). As you say, I just think it’s a fantastic price for that kind of whisky.

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