Bunnahabhain Spiorad An Dòchais 30yo

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A couple of weeks ago I participated in what seemed like a never ending train of virtual Feis Ile tastings (not complaining one bit) with each distillery taking their festival open day online. Bunnahabhain’s virtual tasting was MC’d by Dave Broom, and took place on the evening of the distillery’s traditional open day; the Friday of Feis Ile. In addition to releasing two festival bottlings – a 2010 Moine Amontillado Finish and a 2002 Madeira Finish – they also revealed something pretty spectacular during the online tasting.

Spiorad An Dochais, which is Gaelic for ‘Spirit of Hope’, is a 30 year old single cask whisky which has been matured for 25 years in a first fill oloroso sherry cask, and finished for five years in a virgin oak cask. If a five year finish in virgin oak sounds a bit weird, you’d be right. During the tasting, Bunnahabhain Master Blender Julieann Fernandez explained that it was done to avoid the liquid being overwhelmed by the sherry, and to bring a bit more spice and nuttiness to the final product.

A 30 year old single cask Bunnahabhain… it can’t be bad, can it?

Bunnahabhain Spiorad An Dòchais 30yo
25 years 1st fill oloroso then 5 years virgin oak
Feis Ile 2020
200 bottles
49.9% ABV
£650 RRP

Nose: Salted caramel, manuka honey, beeswax, and polish to begin. Then the fruits come through with red currants, berries, stewed figs, a touch of rum and raisin ice cream, and subtle herbaceous notes. There’s some teak, sandalwood, and gentle mahogany underneath.

Palate: Richly fruity to begin, with prunes, sultanas, dates, stewed plums, and overripe apples. There’s a backbone of toasted malt, caramelised walnuts, liquorice, anise, and aromatic baking spices… cinnamon in particular. Chewy oak, pencil, and a touch of dark chocolate underneath.

Finish: Stays dark and brooding, with a mix of dried fruits, mocha, and antique furniture.

Overall: Dave Broom said during the tasting that this is “an extraordinary, extraordinary whisky”, and I’m inclined to agree. Before tasting it, I was quite sceptical about the five year finish in virgin oak, which can be quite aggressive, and a bit of a blunt instrument, when it comes to maturing whisky. However the virgin oak is barely noticeable, and whatever it has added has integrated extremely well, providing a very well balanced and satisfying dram. With just 200 bottles available, they were all snapped up within a few hours of them going live on Bunnahabhain’s website, so if you really want to get your hands on this, you’ll need to hunt it down at auction.




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