Two months ago, I learnt something new: you can’t enjoy every whisky. It seems obvious enough, but in deepest midwinter I ventured to my usual haunt and purchased a bottle of the Bunnahabhain 12 year old. I’d heard great things about it and was rather eager to try it for myself. So upon arriving home, a glass was immediately cleaned and a measure of the new purchase poured in. Yet no sooner had my nose been eagerly thrust into the glass than wham! it was instantly recoiled in horror (please forgive the hyperbole).
Grief, I thought, something is most definitely wrong with the whisky. A bizarre smell, one that I couldn’t place, permeated through it: a weird mixture of nut oil, palm oil, smoldering plastic, rubber and other assorted generic ‘chemicals’. Aware now that my £25 of parted cash was on the line, I braved the smell and tried hopelessly to associate it with some pleasant aromas. Yet alas, it was too plastic for vanilla, too nutty for fruits, and smelt worryingly like a local cardboard factory. Funnily enough, it actually tasted OK, but it would have been a gargantuan challenge to drink this whisky and actually enjoy it; the taste in this instance couldn’t buoy up its unfortunate olfactory brother.
So was there anything wrong with the whisky? No, not at all. I would be the first to acknowledge that Bunnahabhain is a very good whisky. The problem was solely me, and my own subjectivity. Sometimes a decent whisky is just not palatable to an individual, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If anything, it further goes to highlight the subjective nature of our own Cask Tales reviews. What did I do with the whisky? Aware that I couldn’t possibly give this a fair review (although I may do one in the summer), I swapped it with Josh in return for some Drambuie. Yes, he’s reviewed it and, yes, he tends to agree with me about that ‘smell’ running through the whisky, but nowhere near enough to feel actively repulsed by it. But then everyone has at least one whisky that they don’t particularly like. Hardeep, of Winestop fame, has the same uneasy feeling about Laphroaig’s whisky, which I love. And what about his view on Bunnahabhain? He sings its praises. Go figure.