Starting your day at 11am with a tot of fine Scottish whisky is definitely not for the fainthearted. With alcohol strengths reaching 46.3% abv, the Bunnahabhain (pronounced Bunna – halve – enn) was a great tonsil-tickler of a tot last week and a fascinating personal reminder for me about why I should drink more single malt – simply because I love it.
The occasion was the launch in Africa of Bunnahabhain’s new ‘Un-chillfiltered’ range of whiskies. For the last 40 years, nearly all whiskies, particularly blended ones, have been through a process called chill-filtering. This involved chilling the whisky down to 0°C, pushing the whisky through a fine gauze and removing some of the fatty esters which had been turning the whisky cloudy when it was chilled. It made for a more stable and slightly lower-alcohol product but, as with any filtering, some of the essential flavour and character of the whisky was lost.
Bunnahabhain has taken the decision that its customers are intelligent to appreciate the difference in flavour without worrying too much about any slight cloudiness which may arise in their drink. Their new range of whiskies, made without any chill-filtering, includes a 12, 18 and 25 year old single malt, all of them aged in different proportions of sherry and American Bourbon casks which add colour and depth of flavour. The result is an incredibly smooth range of spirits with an extra strength which, according to whisky expert Dominic Roskrow ‘is to whisky, what High Definition is to television.’ Local brand ambassador, Pierre Meintjes, has the following tips for enjoying it at its full.
• Add a dash of room-temperature filtered water to your whisky as opposed to ice. Ice causes the flavour esters to contract and makes them hard to recognise whereas water helps them to expand and be enjoyed.
• When tasting a whisky, breathe in through your mouth as well as your nose to alleviate any alcoholic burn on your back palate.
• You should hold a whisky in your mouth for the same number of seconds as it is old – so a 25 year old single malt needs a full 25 seconds rolling around your mouth in order to enjoy every single one of the unique flavours.
Bunnahabhain is available at specialist spirit retailers and sells for around R490 for the 12 year old, stretching up to R2,100 for the 25 year old.