Bunnahabhain – Feis Ile 2023, Three New Festival Bottlings

The first ever Feis Ile was held in 1986 and was a colourful mixture of events, walks, history talks, Ceilidhs, and of course its world-renowned Whisky.

Now, Islay’s Feis Ile is probably one of the finest Whisky festivals in the world.

Over the course of 8 days, each distillery has a day where they host tours and tastings, with a range of live music taking place across Islay.

The week’s highlights usually always include Bruichladdich Day, Ardbeg Day and Bunnahabhain Day, which traditionally take place on the first Sunday and last Friday / Saturday.

Distillery days are as follows:

  • Saturday 27 May – Lagavulin
  • Sunday 28 May – Bruichladdich
  • Monday 29 May – Caol Ila
  • Tuesday 30 May – Laphroaig
  • Wednesday 31 May – Bowmore
  • Wednesday 31 May – Ardnahoe
  • Thursday 1 June – Kilchoman
  • Friday 2 June Bunnahabhain
  • Friday 2 June – Isle of Jura
  • Saturday 3 June – Ardbeg

Today, I shall be tasting Bunnahabhain’s three Feis Ile 2023 Festival releases, they are.

Canasta Cask Matured – Limited Release

1998 Manzanilla Cask Finish – Limited Release

17-Year-Old Triple Cask Moine –  Limited release

Brendan McCarron, Master Distiller at Bunnahabhain, said: “We’re so excited to welcome Whisky fans from across the globe to celebrate the world of Bunnahabhain at Fèis Ìle once again. We look forward to the festival every year as it is a great way to spend time with Whisky lovers, bring them into our world and share some fantastic drams in such a beautiful setting.  Our Canasta and Manzanilla expressions showcase the very best of our distillery home and our signature unpeated, sherried house style. Fèis Ìle also gives us a fantastic opportunity to experiment with the limited peated spirit we have, and our 17-year-old triple cask is a uniquely wonderful and smoky expression to add to the celebration. We’re very much looking forward to raising a dram with fellow Whisky lovers”.

Let’s see how they taste.

First up is the Canasta cask.

Bunnahabhain – Canasta Cask, Limited Release, Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 51.2% Al/vol 70cl

Colour…Rich amber.

Nose…Brandied fruit cake, sherry-soaked raisins, honey, and mild spices.

Taste…Madagascar vanilla ice cream, a little citrus hint, and a teardrop of water give it a suggestion of barley sugar and pear and orange boiled sweets.

Finish…long and sweet, a slight bitterness of coffee, a spicy and fragrant finish.

Another grand dram from Bunnahabhain.

Second is the 1998 Manzanilla Cask Finish.

Bunnahabhain – 1998 Manzanilla Cask Finish, Limited Release, Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 52.3% Alc/vol 70cl

Colour…Oak tree bark.

Nose…Rose wine, wine gums, fresh grapefruit juice, mixed mild spices.

Taste…Robust, salty with a touch of sweetness, I have gone a bit crazy. I imagined being kissed by a mermaid, sticky toffee pudding, a mixture of driftwood and lobster creels, a terrific coastal dram.

Finish…Medium to long finish, seaweed, lemon and pear sweets, and sea salt is always there.

Another fabulous dram from Bunnahabhain, an indulgence by the sea.

Finally, we have the 17 Year Old Moine.

Bunnahabhain – 17 Year Old Triple Cask Moine, Limited Release, Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, 52.6% Alc/vol 70cl

Colour…Polished pine.

Nose…I was immediately aware that this was going to be a good one, a teasing spicy smoke. I imagined walking down Bowmore High Street in the winter with all the houses having their peat fires lit and the smoke billowing from their chimneys.  Raisins were sitting on a well-charred stave, just walking past a flower shop.

Taste…Fresh oysters with lemon and tabasco sauce, a slightly oily mouthfeel, sticky banana cake, roasted figs, and Caribbean punch add sweetness.

Finish… Long and rich, the smoke stays in charge, a beautiful contemplative dram, pure bliss in a glass.

This is my favourite of the three drams, this is a real winter warmer.

Interestingly, this bottling was an experimental expression inspired by Julieann Fernandez, Bunnahabhain’s Master Blender, and her love for rum and raisin ice cream. This expression is a contrast to Bunnahabhain’s house style, this 17-year-old has an ABV of 52.6% and is a marriage of three skilfully blended peated single malts that offers notes of the finest artisan rum and raisin ice-cream, with a wonderfully smoky finish. 

Nicola and I have been to many Feis Ile and after tasting these three quite outstanding drams I wish I was once again on the island of my dreams, Islay.  

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