Anyone who came within sniffing distance of Social Media would have realised it was Feis Ile last week! Given that the physical festival was canceled, each of the Islay distilleries took up the challenge of transferring festivities on-line.
This was no mean fete, as anyone who has ever been to the Island will tell you, a warm welcome – not to mention excellent whisky – is guaranteed, a reliable wi-fi connection is most certainly not! So a huge well done to the distillery teams for bringing the spirit of Feis to the homes of dedicated peat freaks and smoke lovers around the world!
So, what about the fabled “Feis Ile” bottlings? I hear you ask!
Well, one distillery decided to not to go ahead with a release this year. Whereas the rest of them decided sell bottles online (some via a ballot system) with a portion of the profits raised going to various charitable causes.
Not only that! The folks from Bunnahabhain went as far as sending me samples of their bottlings with an invitation to join them for an online tasting last Friday night! Fies Ile in Gateshead no less! Who am I to refuse such an offer! Here are my thoughts on the whiskies…
Madeira Finish for 3 years
Sticky figs and refreshing mint. Oat cereals and creamy vanilla followed by fleshy caramelized apples.
Thick and coating. Treacle drizzled on dark fruitcake. Raisins, sultanas, dates and almond underpinned with cinnamon, anise, and nutmeg. Burnt sugar and charred oak notes blanket at the end.
Long and sustained, the “dark” wood char settles for and age of preserved oranges…
Peppery peat and candied orange peel, settling with mild vanilla spice…
Earthy and dark, bitter chocolate. Rich and mouth coating, big on charred and ground hazel nuts with lashings of oak char.
Char continues and gives way to pepper spice for medium-long length.
Bunnahabhain Feis Ile 2020
Spiorad An Dochas
25 years in Sherry Finished on Virgin Oak for 5
Sticky and Sharp, citrus peel and fruit gums. Almonds, cinnamon, and brambles coated in caramel…
Coats the mouth wonderfully, great balance from pepper to caramel. Refreshing ripe melon and grape juice then thicken to fleshy apple and pear…
Long and dry, some of the sharp citrus has returned but the deeper silky caramel soon wash over the sharpness…
Well folks, two solid Bunahabhains and a stonker!
It’s great to see that the team are continuing the trademark “Thick and Rich” style of whisky that has become a classic. The experimentation with cask finishes is continuing with pace, and I make no apology for once again voicing a polite request for a Bunna release from some exceptional re-fill bourbon, if for nothing but a counterbalance!
I must also give the highest praise to the Team for delivering a Sherry cask whisky that has been finished in virgin oak. It is my belief that the trend towards Sherried whiskies in recent years has started to get a little bit silly, sometimes I’m concerned that purchases are being made primarily on an assessment of the colour produced by maturation in first fill sherry, and not enough attention is being paid to the flavor in the base spirit. So, when a distillery like Bunnahabhain to not only recognize that whisky can be “Overdone” but also take steps to help the spirit style speak using virgin oak (especially in a headline release) it gives me a nice fuzzy, warm feeling!
Great work team!
Hope to see you soon!