Bunnahabhain 33, 1980-2013, Bourbon Barrel, 45% – James MacArthur

It’s been a minute since I tasted something new of a vintage like this! With older stocks depleting, older vintages become more rare as we go. Of course, that has always been the case, but I think in the future older vintages are going to be ever more rare than they are now, since the younger stocks are being sold rapidly too.

Of course, even if older stocks were still regularly released, they’d have to be a bit cheaper than they currently are for me. I’m generally not in the business of shelling out a thousand bucks for a 25 year old whisky. Or any whisky, for that matter.

Image from Whiskybase

Anyway, a bottling from the Fine Malt Selection by James MacArthur, from a decade ago. I’m not even sure if they still are in business because Googling the brand name doesn’t really show much from an official website. And according to Whiskybase, the last bottling was from 2017. At least, the last one with a bottling year filled out.

Older Bunnahabhain tends to be pretty awesome, so let’s not dawdle any longer and get to it!

Old barley, dry autumn leaves, a bit of a coastal salinity. All in all, quite a mature dram. Dried apples, hints of hay. Slightly cigar-y too.

The palate, surprisingly, has notes of dried fruits like dates and plums, on top of the apple that was there before. A dry bite with hints of pepper, straw and salinity.

The finish holds the middle between the nose and the palate. There’s the dried fruit notes, as well as the straw, but also the leafy, cigar like note. Quite dry indeed but with a hint of burnt butter.

Very complex with lots of layers to be peeled back. This is more or less exactly what older Bunnahabhain is known for, and this bottling does it very well. I love that the spirit is still noticeable after 33 years, so it’s not just the cask that you’re tasting! Great stuff!


Thanks to LF for the sample!


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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