Sincere thanks to Raj and Glass Revolution Imports for the sample.
Man…1989, that was a year. Thanks to near global upheaval, the events of that year drastically altered the sociopolitical landscape of practically the entire planet. In South Africa, F.W. DeClerc freed Nelson Mandela and negotiated the end of Apartheid. Fernando Collor de Mello was elected president of Brazil in the most democratic election held in that country since the 1964 installation of a military regime. Student-led protests in China’s Tiananmen Square led to hundreds if not thousands of casualties, and the now-iconic image of a lone man standing in the path of oncoming tanks. Exxon set the standard for huge companies shirking responsibility when their incompetence and greed resulted in a horrific environmental disaster. And the Oakland A’s won the World Series though they were slightly upstaged by the devastating Loma Prieta Earthquake. Oh, and there was that little provincial flare up in Germany involving a wall or something or other. I actually happened to be in Berlin for that one. While something as innocuous sounding as a wall coming down might not seem like cause for a celebration, let me tell you, the townsfolk in that area thought this was a pretty big deal and were partying like it was 1989, which of course it was.
I’m pretty sure plenty of other stuff happened, too. There was also plenty of incredible music released into the wild in 1989. Off the top of my head, as far as I remember, Nirvana’s Bleach, Fugazi’s Margin Walker, Bad Brain’s Quickness, De La Soul’s Three Feet High & Rising, Mudhoney’s debut LP, the Pixie’s Doolittle, John Adam’s Fearful Symmetries / The Wound-Dresser, Soundgarden’s Louder Than Love, Beastie Boys’ Paul’s Boutique, Voivod’s Nothingface, Bitch Magnet’s Umber, Bob Mould’s Workbook, Steve Reich’s Different Trains/Electric Counterpoint, Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever, Skunk’s Last American Virgin, and Debbie Gibson’s Electric Youth were all came out that year on something called a compact disc.
I have no idea what kind of lusty shenanigans were going on at Bunnahabhain in 1989. They were distilling malted barley spirit of course, or at least we can presume they were as the label of this one states it was distilled on October 23, 1989. The Statement series of independently bottled whiskies is part of Blackadder’s Raw Cask line, representing the extra-special cream of the crop of their selected barrels. The Blackadder Statement Edition #27, 1989 Bunnahabhain 28 Year Old was distilled 3 days after Ace Frehley’s Trouble Walkin’ came out, and was matured in a most likely American oak hogshead. As with all Black Adder Raw Cask bottlings, this one has been bottled unfiltered at cask strength – pretty much straight from the barrel. There’s even some tiny wood chips floating around for good measure.
The Nose: A very nice, very sweet nose once it opens up. There’s malt syrup, vanilla fudge (the fudge, not the band), dark floral honey, milky caramel sprinkled with sea salt, and lots of orange marmalade spread over sourdough bread. Behind that, notes of moist fruitcake – sticky dried fruits and gingerbread. Subtler hints of condensed milk, and Jordan almonds. The oak is prominent, smooth, and polished, with a grippy weight to it. A faint hint of oiled leather. Cinnamon, candied ginger, dried orange peel, and vanilla bean.
The Palate: A thinly oily mouthfeel introduces a more dynamic, less sweet palate. Tannic, worn oak notes permeate throughout. Continued caramelized sugars are joined by heftier fruit notes – red currant jam, spiced juicy orange, dark red fruits. Fudgy, nutty chocolate leads to a swell of oak and spice. towards the end. An old room full of worn oak, still nicely tannic, but well-integrated. Cinnamon, clove, sticky vanilla bean, candied ginger, and a touch of cardamom.
The Finish: Lengthy, mouth-watering oak, along with a caramelized sweetness, vanilla bean, dried orange peel, and fine ground, almost smoky black pepper at the last.
Thoughts: Very good. Though while very good is very good, I have to admit I was hoping for stellar and mind-blowing. Still…this is very good. The nose is quite fine and complex, if a bit on the sweet side, but it leads nicely to the palate, where I think this one comes alive even more. There’s lots of the finishing sherry cask to be found throughout. I found this one integrated that finishing pretty well, but at times wished for that influence to be a little lighter to let the long years in the hogshead shine through more. Old Bunna, it’s usually a treat to have in one’s glass, this one is no exception. Recommended…though probably very hard to find at this point…and if you do find it, probably very expensive.
- “1989.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 31 July 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989
- “1989 In Music.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 July 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1989_in_music
- “Bunnahabhain 1989 BA – Ratings and Reviews – Whiskybase.” Whiskybase.com, www.whiskybase.com/whiskies/whisky/105206/bunnahabhain-1989-ba
- “Statement.” Blackadder, 6 Sept. 2017, www.blackadder.nu/statement/