Something a bit different today a whisky from independent bottlers (IB) Signatory Vintage. IB’s aren’t usually distilleries in their own rights, but will buy barrels and casks from distilleries and make either their own blends, or market as drops that you wouldn’t find as a signature taste. IBs are what you turn to if you really want to try something that you won’t typically get from the mainstream distilleries in your local bottle shop.
The Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily Peated is one such offering courtesy of cask #5515 and I had the pleasure of bottle #246 of 297. The Bunnahabhain distillery is located on the isle of Islay and if you have read some of my other reviews you’ll probably know I am going to be happy.
I left my review very late on this bottle, a gift from my wife, and write this as I am literally down to the last glass. Slainte.
- Distillery: Bunnahabhain bottled by Signatory Vintage
- Expression: Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily Peated
- Age: 16 years
- Strength: 52%
- Country: Scotland
- Region: Islay
- Website: n/a
- Source: gift
Pale golden – apologies about the photo.
Typically peaty so no surprises, bit dusty, possibly some orange or citrus in there but not strong, some sugars.
Easy to peg this as an Islay whisky – peaty, dusty, earthy, rich. A little bit spicy but the sweetness from the nose is also present, followed out the back by a slight starkness. A bit tingly on the tongue which is expected from 52% but still enjoyable.
Water, wow, a small drop of water really lifts this whisky up. Strong deep sweetness now, very rich with a thick mouthfeel. Didn’t feel diluted at all and made it feel like a much fuller whisky. Maybe some caramels too.
Good length in the finish, the tongue and lip tingle remains but is manageable. The sweetness disappears and we’re back to a slightly metallic aftertaste but that gorgeous smoke lingers on. The experience with water keeps the sweet finish going longer.
An easy whisky for me to enjoy as it ticks all the boxes I like especially: peaty, unique, and a nice surprise when water added. In fact I would say to get the most out of this whisky a little water is a must. Thoroughly enjoyed the Signatory Vintage Bunnahabhain 1997 Heavily Peated and if I saw another bottle, considering its limited supply, I would buy one. Thank you, dear wife, you certainly did well (and I know you enjoyed it too).
So here again is the thing with IBs, your chances of drinking this particular expression are pretty limited as there are (were?) only 297 bottles produced. It doesn’t make it highly valuable, but it does, however, make it unique. If you’re an Islay drinker, and you really appreciate the exploration, then an easy buy. If you don’t like your Islays or feel you don’t appreciate whisky enough yet, look to the more mainstream bottles at your local liquor supplier.