I come from a land down under

Taste Review #17 – Bunnahabhain 12 – Old Style

I’m going to bet that you all thought I’d lost my mind and decided to try Australian whisky given the title this week, with reference to the 1980’s song by Men At Work. I can assure you, while I won’t dismiss trying it, that until I am bored with Scottish whisky, I will not be buying any Australian stuff. Sorry to any Australian readers, but our stuff knocks yours into a cocket hat most of the time. Unless you are drinking a certain nip from Jura.

Bunnahabhain 12 (old style)

This particular bottle for this review is a miniature bottle that I purchased in a group of miniatures at auction and it turns out that one or two of them have been Australian imports. That’s a long way from the distillery to get to my kitchen table. As it turns out, the journey didn’t do it any harm.

The Aussies know to import the good stuff




12 years old


46.3% a.b.v


Russet Gold


Slight smoke, hazelnuts, brine, dried fruit, vanilla


Smooth, nutty, sultanas, salt, sweet. Salt more apparent when water added.


Medium to long, sherried with brine notes increasing towards the end. Nice pleasant ending.

Bottle and dram


As Islay malts go, this is by far not the smokiest or peatiest. It’s a very pleasant dram, and it’s sad to think that as this is a discontinued bottling. Although Bunnahabhain 12 is still available, it is unlikely to be exactly the same recipe as has been used since it was first introduced. In 2006, the packaging was updated and in 2010, the distillery stopped using colouring and chill filtering, and started bottling the 12 year old at 46.3%. Prior to this, it was coloured, chill filtered and only 40%. In 2017, the current packaging was released, so I am guessing this bottle was made after 2010. Indeed I did see a very slight appearance of ‘Scotch Mist’ after I added water. However I made a wee bit of a water pouring error, and over added, so the rest of the miniature went in, and there was definitely no real signs of any cloudiness in the glass. At 46.3% it shouldn’t need any chill filtering anyway.

Bunnahahain Dunnage warehouses

As I mentioned, this bottling was updated in 2017 with new labelling in common with the rest of the Bunnahabhain range. I don’t currently have much Bunnahabhain in my collection, save the first edition of Moine Oloroso cask at 60.1% bottles in 2017. Already this is a bottling that people will pay double what I paid for it, such was its impact. Pity that the distillery only laid down 7 casks, making this a limited bottling that will rise in value. Of course, a core range bottling won’t necessarily gain as much value unless it’s a Macallan or Highland Park, but don’t think this is a bad whisky. Why is that you may ask? Well, there is a good reason why the 12 year old has remained in the core range for what is now 40 years.

I would definitely recommend the 12 year old for those wanting to ease themselves into the smoky Islay malts, and if I saw it on offer, I’d definitely buy it for the drinking collection.

Expect to pay about £40 for the latest edition of the Bunnahabhain 12. I cannot give you a price for the miniature I purchased as it was part of a bigger batch, of which I will review more of later. At auction, expect to pay £20-£30 for the older 70CL or 75CL bottlings.

Slainte Mhath!

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