I recently tasted the Bunnahabhain Cruach Mhona immediately followed by the Laphroaig Quarter Cask. In my experience, a whisky can be much better assessed and appreciated when tasted in close succession with another. Both whiskies being somewhat peaty in nature and claiming to mix in some smoke and sweetness, I figured a direct comparison between the two was in order. Though not indicated, I believe both are aged about 8 years but you would be hard pressed to judge on age alone. The reason being that their respective production methods give them more than their share of character despite their relatively young age. You can read more about each in my previous entries.
This was an exciting tasting and yielded results I had not expected. I added a few drops of water to each before tasting. I find both whiskies benefit from a bit of water considering their alcohol content.
The Cruach Mhona comes on peaty on the nose with some smoke and sweetness, similar to the Quarter Cask, though the latter is more peaty and smoky.
On the palate, the difference is remarkable. The Cruach Mhona is sweeter, peaty, but with a honey sweetness as compared to the Quarter Cask, which is slightly sweet itself but less noticeably. The Quarter Cask shows much more wood in its character, more remarkable in its finish than on the palate, but clearly distinguishing itself from the Cruach Mhona. Both are smoky, but the Cruach Mhona better delivers the flavour and finish of the smoke.
The finish on the Cruach Mhona is more sweet as well, continuing the overall expression of peat alternating with sweetness. The Quarter Cask is less obvious and the flavours interact more evenly, with the wood giving it some more character.
Both of these are excellent whiskies and my penchant for the more sweet body and finish of the Cruach Mhona lead me to proclaim the Cruach Mhona the winner, if only by a slim margin.
Many will disagree and I would love your comments regarding this assessment.