Whisky Blind Tasting Log

I got some sample bottles from a good friend, labeled 1-9. So I will blind taste them and I was recommended to start with 1,2,3,5,8 (thats close to a Fibonnaci siries but I am quite sure that is a coincidence). #1 is supposed to be cask strength. Try them head to head, randomly first.

#2 vs #5: #2 is darker. #5 has a quite classic aroma, not so little bourbon and vanilla in it. Neither very peated or sweet. #2 is fruitier and if one would be sherry matured it is this one. #5 is a softer, more malty thing. #2 is a bit more raw (or that is how I experience the probably-sherry-character). I taste #2, yes it is very good, in my taste, much vanilla and oak, and not so soft in the mouth as I first thought: it both has a kick and is soft (I add a little water). #5 has a strong sherry character, but what a sherry character (!), it is fruity like raisins or cherries, rich and deep, soft and malty. Very good. I really like #5 (although it has a hint of surprising bitterness after #2), but the only reason to not let #2 win would be if I were an absolute sherry hater, and I am not. Victory to #2.

#1 vs #3: Quite similar in color, #1 is cask strength and #3 is perhaps slightly more red. These are not so obvious on the nose, classic almost subtle with no immediately dominating aromas. #3 is a bit more of oak and vanilla, #1 a light, somewhat fruity maltiness. I taste #1 (first without water) and it is an unusual whisky, I find coffee and stout (or porter) in it. Oh, #3 is nice, an elegant mix of classic malt and sherry, with a nicely lingering red fruitiness. Back to #1, I remain at this roasted somewhat sweet flavour. #3 wins.

So that leaves us with #2 and #3 winning, and #1 and #5 losing. Lets play the losers and winners before trying #4.

#1 vs #5: Similar color. A bit more vanilla and oak in the aroma of #5, #1 is harder to put words to. I like #1 now, classic but yes still with some coffee and stout. #5 is more soft, with more vanilla. I really like #5 and it wins.

#2 vs #3: #2 is darker. I ended up with the two sherry inspired whiskies in the final. Well, this is weird, #2 is a bit chlorine, like a swimming pool, but in a good way! #3 has a more rough sherry cask character. #2 has to me a close to perfect sherry whisky flavour, soft and well balanced, without the sherry dominating too much. #3 is good, but a bit more rough and raw, and perhaps with a hint of that sulphur (which I don’t find a trace of in #2). Victory to #2.

So at this point we have #2 in the top, followed by #3, #5 and #1. I pour up #8 and find it as dark as #2, and yes, it has a definite high quality sherry character. Lets play it against #3.

#3 vs #8: #8 is darker, and it has more powerful aroma. I think #8 may be a bit peated. On the nose I would think that #3 is the more safe choice, and #8 is the joker. Lets taste the joker. Not bad, it is definitely a sherry matured whisky, a but juicy – like fresh and sour. #3 is more malty, a bit more conservative, I prefer #3.

#5 vs #8: #5 is paler. On the nose, #5 is a much lighter, maltier more classic speyside-like whisky. #8 is more spectacular sherry. #5, very good soft bourbon flavour. #8 is more powerful, and obviously more sherry. I prefer #5.

#1 vs #8: #1 is paler, and cask strength. On the nose #8 is rich, sherry, peated (perhaps) and complex. #1 is rather anonymous and subtle. #1 starts with a quite classic malt flavour, ending with this coffee roast again. These are a bit different in character, yet similar in quality. I am not a sherry fan (although top 2 of 5 went to sherry so far), and there is some I don’t like about #8 and I find #1 more enjoyable.

Final list (best to worst – and with the actual names written out):

  1. #2 Bunnahabhain 1986-2010 Carn Mor
  2. #3 Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches
  3. #5 Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli
  4. #1 Bunnahabhain 1979-2000
  5. #8 Bunnahabhain 28 Statement

More tasting against other whiskies

(#2) Bunnahabhain 1986-2010 Carn Mor vs Bunnahabhain 21 Königsmann Oloroso: Königsmann is darker, and it has a very powerful fruity aroma. #2 is more subtle, balanced, classic malt here. Königsmann has a distinctive sherry character, rich sweet and complex. #2 is more balanced, not exactly subtle sherry but less dominant sherry. I prefer #2.

(#8) Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Bunnahabhain 21 Königsmann Oloroso: Königsmann is darker, with more fruit and bourbon (! – who would have thought) on the nose. #8 a bit dull here. First two very small sips, Königsmann feels like the richer more powerful whisky. #8 tastes a hint of peat, not so much sherry, and some unfortunate sulphur that I can’t forget or forgive. Königsmann has a more straight sherry influence, more fruity. It is actually very close, but I prefer Königsmann.

Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli vs Redbreast 15: Redbreast a bit darker. Not so little similarity in aroma, Redbreast has a little bit more raw bourbon character and Bunnahabhain seems slightly softer, fruitier. Bunnahabhain has a rich and complex flavour that lingers long, a bit salty, a bit bitter, not so little bourbon and oak. Redbreast is more immediately and powerful sweet bourbon, which is very nice, but then it fades quicker. These two dont quite improve each other, Bunnahabhain seems a bit dull and Redbreast a bit chemical. Bunnahabhain is definitely a more complex and complete whisky, with some unfortunate bitterness. Redbreast is much more simple, but it does its bourbon extremely well. I prefer Redbreast, but I understand if connaiseurs and enthusiasts find that crazy.

Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli vs Bushmills 16: Bushmills clearly darker. Bunnahabhain has a saltier and maltier aroma (you can feel the Islay/Sea-character, without the peat). Bushmills is sweeter, more chemical. I taste Bushmills, at first sweet, then sweeter, caramel, very soft. Bunnahabhain is saltier, maltier, and more bitter. Thinking I have very cheap and sweet preference, I lean towards Bushmills. I find Bunnahabhain more interesting than pleasant.

Bunnahabhain 1989-2016 Samaroli vs Springbank 15 Rum PC#629: Springbank much paler to the eye, but to the nose much rougher. Bunnahabhain rather soft and balanced, Springbank actually a bit sulphur. Springbank tastes fantastic though, no sulphur really, salty and with a hidden sweetness from the rum. Bunnahabhain has a more dominant sweetness more in the front. Bunnahabhain is more complex, lingering nicer, and I prefer it.

Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Glengoyne 21: Very similar color, both rather dark. Glengoyne has a light, almost wine-like aroma, definitely dominated by a soft sherry character but I thought I found bourbon in there too (and reading the bottle I am wrong). Bunnahabhain not so different, a bit saltier, rougher and in-your-face sherry, but not so much. Bunnahabahin is the more sweet. Tasting Glengoyne, it is sweet, caramel, some dark fruits, soft nice and round. Bunnahabhain is saltier, rougher, and an unfortunate hint of sulphur. I add little water to it. Tasting both again, I prefer Glengoyne.

Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Longrow 13 Red: Both rather dark and reddish, Longrow stronger but adding water makes not so much difference. Not so different on the nose, Longrow is a bit rougher and saltier, perhaps more sulphur, and its “red” casks have given less sweetness than the sherry casks of Bunnahabhain. I take a small sip of both, Longrow has too much sulphur, like old margarine, and Bunnahabhain has more complexity and and variety. Bunnahabhain wins.

Bergslagen Two Hearts vs Bunnahabhain 28 Statement: Very similar color. There is something thin, sweet, fruity and unnatural about Bergslagen, where Bunnahabhain smells of old quality. I taste Bergslagen, and it does have some quality: reasonable compexity, some softness, sweetness that is easy to enjoy and quite an absense of unwanted flavours. Bunnahabhain is saltier, but with some unfortunate sulphur. However, with that sulphur in mind, Bergslagen is not so flawless after all, and I think Bunnahabhain wins a narrow victory.

Bunnahabhain 28 Statement vs Johnny Walker 18: Similar color, JW probably slightly paler. JW quite light, something mint/hay about its aroma, otherwise classic scotch and perhaps a hint of peat. Bunnahabhain fresher, fruitier, saltier. I taste Johnny Walker, and it is flawlessly soft and balanced and it remains fairly long in the mouth. No bones. Bunnahabhain is much more sherry, and with that comes the sulphur: it has a lot of quality, but I am not forgiving with Sulphur. I prefer Johnny Walker 18.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Glen Ord 18 (2019 Special Release): Much more color in Bunnahabhain. Glen Ord has a somewhat oily soily nose, but also fruity. Bunnahabhain strikes me as more sherry, those dark and red fruits. Glen Ord is classic, easy to enjoy, dry and a bit burnt in the mouth. Bunnahabhain has a more powerful aroma with an nice balance between sherry and malt. Glen Ord being a bit lighter, still has a comparable wealth of flavours. I have a simple flavour, not leaning towards sherry, and I prefer Glen Ord.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Macallan 1993-2013: Very similar color. Macallan is lighter, more maltier, a bit more caramel and soft fruits on the nose. Bunnahabhain is saltier, rougher with more sherry. Macallan tastes good, very soft and balanced, slightly bitter. Bunnahabhain is a saltier more powerful experience. Back to Macallan, a bit dull, not quite up to this. Bunnahabhain wins.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Highland Park 18 Viking Pride: Bunnahabhain perhaps slightly paler. Both has a bit salty and rough aroma, Highland Park a bit more oil, leather and peat (definitely), Bunnahabhain becomes a little in the shadow here, not quite matching HP in nose power. In the mouth the sherry of Bunnahabhain turns a bit sour, Highland park is very well balanced. I prefer Highland Park.

Bunnahabhain 28 Untold Riches vs Glenfiddich 15 Solera Reserve: Similar color. Bunnahabhain has a more rough and salty aroma, Glenfiddich fresher and fruitier and some maltyness comes through more as well. Tasting Glenfiddich it is very soft, honeylike, malty with some fruitiness. Bunnahabhain is more rare, exquisite in flavour, but also more of an aqcuired taste. I can really see myself and other people prefer Glenfiddich but there is something thin and somple to it side by side with this Bunnahabhain, so I will let Bunnahabhain win.

Bunnahabhain 1979-2000 vs Macallan 1993-2013: Bunnahabhain slightly paler. Macallan has a light fruitiness, with some maltiness. Bunnahabhain rougher, sweeter and saltier. Both have a sherry origin but quite different. Macallan is malty and nice, caramel, a bit nutty. Now there is much more raw sherry character to Bunnahabhain and I add water to it since it is cask strength. Bunnahabhain gets softer with water. Very similar quality, quite quite different character. Macallan is good but it is missing something to me, Bunnahabhain does its thing more straight. So it is a narrow victory to Bunnahabhain.

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