Apart from the story of Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Hyde, there is some background to be given to the whiskies here.
In this case, the whiskies are two very different sides to the same coin, sort of. Both are Bunnahabhains, of almost the same age, a not too varying ABV, drawn from similar casks, and yet there are some huge differences! One of them has a nicely brown hue to it that you would expect from a Sherry butt, but the other one has barely picked up any color from the cask.
The other main difference, as with many Bunnahabhains, is that one is peated and the other one is not. While that makes quite a difference in taste and aroma, it shouldn’t affect the color at all.
Both these whiskies are available from Boogieman Import, which means they’re sold through Passie for Whisky, since that is more or less the same company.
Bunnahabhain 12, 2009-2021, Dr. Jeckyll, 50.7% – Boogieman Import
Lots of dried fruit, on a very crisp, “cold mountain morning” backdrop. Leather and peaches, raisins and a whiff of oak. Bandaids too, with a bit of iodine.
The cold morning crispness turns a little bit watery on the arrival, but is followed quickly by quite a lot of dry oak, peaches and apricots. There some peppery heat too, but not too much.
The finish turns the peppery heat more towards a woody warmth. Not too much sweetness, and more leathery notes too.
Quite an interesting take on Bunnahabhain. It’s quite close to the core range, which is not something we get to see often from independent bottlers. It does have everything amped up, though. So, core range XL or something…
It’s nice that there is a bit of Islay to it through the scent of bandaids, and that crispness was nice too!
Bunnahabhain 11, 2010-2021, Mr. Hyde, 52.3% – Boogieman
If you told me this was heavily peated newmake, I’d believe you. Although, there is a bit more depth. Not woody, and pale as the moon, but the typical newmake cloying alcohol sweetness is not there. What is there is massive heaps of peat and smoke. Slightly kippery.
Quite sharp with unmellowed alcohol and smoke. Peated turpentine, with black pepper and a touch of oak. Very weird. There is some fruity sweetness in the background though. Slightly tropical.
The finish is very consistent with the palate, but maybe even more smoky. Later on it turns quite mezcal-like!
Talking about this being a strange one. It’s very interesting but a bit of a one-trick pony. It reminded me of a sample of Lagavulin I got at the distillery in 2010, which came from a fourth-fill cask and the cask had therefore barely had any effect on the whisky. In this case, I bet something similar happened, because this is as close to aged new make (a contradiction, I know) as you can get.
Some mellowing has happened, but other than that there’s barely any cask influence at all. So again, very interesting, but also quite a gimmicky whisky, if you ask me.
Having reviewed these two whiskies, I can confidently say that Boogieman has gone for a rather unique approach here! Two things with rather comparable parameters (except for only one being peated) can come out so very differently. Kudos, because it’s a gutsy move!
Unfortunately, we can’t really close this review without mentioning the elephant in the room in regards to these kinds of bottlings. A little foot note has to be made: Boogieman is one of many who is trying to cope with this issue, since Islay whisky is being ridiculously popular. The price of these two bottles is € 150. Each.
This is currently the case with all Bunnahabhains, Laphroaigs, Bruichladdichs, Kilchomans and Bowmores. Lagavulin and Ardbeg are way more expensive still, and the only one lagging a little bit behind (for now) is Caol Ila.
We’re getting to the point that I understand the price point if you’re really in the market to buy Islay whisky. As in, if you are specifically looking for a bottling from the Queen of the Hebrides, you whill have to be okay with prices like that. However, I often don’t think the price is justified in terms of the whisky you’re actually getting, compared to other options from Scotland.
To me, the connection between price and enjoyment is a bit lost.