On my return from the UK, I picked up the Bunnahabhain Cruach-Mhona at Heathrow airport’s duty-free store. According to the box, Cruach-Mhona (pronounced cru-ach vhona) means “peat stack” in Scottish Gaelic. I was looking for something smokey and chose this one over the Bowmore Cask Strength. Hopefully I chose well. Note that this particular Scotch is only available at the duty-free. Bunnahabhain is not known for peated malts from what I understand, so this could be interesting.
This is an Islay malt, generally known for its peated, smokey malts (though as I mentioned above, Bunnahabhain apparently is an exception). On pouring, I’m struck by the near absence of colour. It is a very pale gold liquid sitting in my glass.
The smell is strong and not surprising as this is a 100 proof drink. The alcohol burns my nose slightly as the aromas are delivered. This smells of smoke, peat, the lake on a mild summer’s day when just about to go out on a boat. You get the idea.
On my tongue, it burns slightly at first, then fades to a smokey, slightly sweet flavour (caramel hints) and ends with the taste of black pepper. For good measure, there’s a distinct taste of salt to go along with the pepper.
The finish lingers for quite some time. It leaves impressions of black pepper but starts with smoke, the lakeside, and transitions to caramel and red liquorice. Quite complex.
Adding water makes the scent less strong. Sweet tones now accompany the smokey and peaty aroma.
The whisky is smoother with water, but goes more salty. The salt alternates with a more rounded sweet flavour and keeps things interesting.
The lingering finish is still smoky and peppery.
Overall this is an excellent addition to any collection, especially if you prefer some of the more smokey offerings. This is supposedly atypical of the brand however so we’ll have to try some of their other offerings. Also, comparison to some of the higher end Bowmore offerings are in order to establish a reference point.
Update July 27, 2012
Coming back from Ogunquit, Maine where I just spent 5 days on the ocean, I find that the nose is eerily reminiscent of the beach. I recognise that seaweed and salt water aroma now that it is fresh in my mind. This is quite a revelation and I again recommend a seach for this product. I have yet to try a higher end Bowmore, but I am told Caol Ila may be up to the task.