Bunnahabhain Islay 18 YO is unique in the Islay whisky world in that it makes a point to not use heavily peated barley, resulting in a house style that is a little more subtle than its neighbours.
The Nose: Light and delicate, sweet, brown sugar to start with a hint of sherry and some baking spices. A little red delicious apple and mixed nuts as well. There’s just faint peat here, just a touch of that band-aid-esque, slightly vegetal Islay tang and a little salty with just a wisp of green wood smoke to go along with a few nice oak notes.
The Palate: A bit more smoke than is present on the nose, smooth and still delicate, peat and apple notes are still there and it becomes even saltier, not just the briny ocean air, but salt, like licking Morton’s off your hand… or the salt from the bottom of a can of peanuts. The oak really comes through at the end, giving a nice, matured drying lead-in to the finish.
The Finish: Medium-long, the salty tang carries on as does the oakiness. The smoke hangs in for a little bit but fades a bit early.