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Bunnahabhain Distillery

The Bunnahabhain Distillery Pronounced ‘Bunn-na-ha-venn’, meaning ‘mouth of the river’ in Scots Gaelic was founded in 1881 near Port Askaig on Islay. The village of Bunnahabhain was founded to house its workers.

Initially the distillery was owned by the Islay Distillery Company, but in 1887 it was taken over by the Highland Distilleries Company.

It closed in 1981 but was opened in 1984 when demand picked up.

Since 2014 the distillery has been owned by Distell and is one of ten active distilleries on the island.

The Bunnahabhain is one of the milder single malt Islay whiskies available and its taste varies greatly from other spirits to be found on the island of Islay, off the west coast of Scotland.

  • Owner

    Parent Company:
    Distell Group
    Current Owner:
    The Bunnahabhain Distillery Company

  • Status

    Operational

  • Country

    Scotland

  • Region

    Islay

  • Production type:

    Single Malt

  • Founded

    1881

  • Production yearly

    2.740.000 Liters

History

Islay’s remote north east coast might seem a strange place to find a substantial Victorian distillery, but it was chosen in 1881 by William Robertson (of Robertson & Baxter) in partnership with Greenlees Bros. as the perfect spot for his island vision. Constructing it meant not only building the distillery but houses as well, putting in a road, and adding on a pier so that casks and barley could come in, and whisky go out. It cost Robertson £30,000 (£2.6m in today’s money). In 1887, when Bunnahabhain merged with Glenrothes, Highland Distillers [now Edrington] was formed.

While other Islay distilleries sold their make as single malts and for blending, Bunna’s destiny was always with the latter. While it was used across the industry, it performed a central role in three R&B blends: Famous Grouse, Cutty Sark and, in time, Black Bottle.

Rapid growth for Scotch in the early 1960s saw the stills being doubled in 1963, the same year as the floor maltings came out. Its good fortunes weren’t to last and like many distilleries it was mothballed in 1982. Although this only lasted two years, production levels were kept low for many years. By the end of the 1980s it was finally ready to emerge as a single malt with the tag-line ‘the unpronounceable malt’. The vast bulk of its make was however still making its way into blends.

Despite an upturn in the whisky market, Edrington sold it (while retaining fillings contracts) in 2003 to Burn Stewart for £10m. Burn Stewart itself was owned by Trinidad-based conglomerate CL Financial which went spectacularly bust in 2009. In 2013 CL’s receivers sold Burn Stewart to its long-term South African distributor, Distell. Since then production levels have increased as have sales of the single malt – with significant success in Africa and Taiwan.

In 2017 Distell announced an £11 million investment in upgrading Bunnahabhain’s ‘scruffy’ appearance, and transform the site into a ‘world-class whisky destination’. 

The three-year upgrade programme began in 2019 with the demolition of shoreline warehouses, which will make way for a new visitor centre.

In 2021 Bunnahabhain opened their new Visitor Centre and their new brand design. with releasing their core range single malt whisky at 46.3% ABV, non chill filtered and with natural colour. 

Timeline of Bunnahabhain

“Whilst Islay is known for its peated whisky, Bunnahabhain stands apart with its signature unpeated style.

With the tallest stills on the island and the only distillery to use water from a natural spring, Bunnahabhain is known for its sherried, delicate, complex and unpeated single malt.”
Bunnahabhain distillery

Distillery Facts

Taste profile

Medium is floral with body

Low in peaty, fruity, sweetness, malty, honey, winey, spicy, nutty

Core range 

At this point Bunnahabhain’s core range is: 

Archive bottles: 

Distillery Exclusives:

  • Bunnahabhain Eich Bhana Lìr
  • 2021 Maturation Warehouse Casks: 2014 Canasta Butt
  • 2021 Maturation Warehouse Casks: 2004 Manzanilla
  • 2021 Maturation Warehouse Casks: 1999 Amontillado 
  • 2021 Maturation Warehouse Casks: 1989 Oloroso 
  • Maturation Warehouse: 2007 Oloroso Hogshead
  • Maturation Warehouse: 2015 Oloroso Hogshead
  • Maturation Warehouse: 2013 Oloroso Hogshead
  • 2003 Amontillado Finish
  • 2004 Mòine Sauternes Finish
  • Maturation Warehouse: 2012 Oloroso Hogshead
  • 2020 New Acquaintance: 30 year old(1988)

Bottels Archive

All the bottles released by Bunnahabhain sorted by year.

Started from the beginning until present. 

Check it out by clicking below 

Warehouse 9 Edition

  • Warehouse 9: 2004 Pedro Ximenez Noe
  • Warehouse 9: 2007 Bourbon Cask
  • Warehouse 9: 2007 Port Pipe
  • Warehouse 9: 2009 Wine Hogshead
  • Warehouse 9: 11 year old Manzanilla Cask

Limited Edition

  • Aonadh
  • Fèis Ìle 2021: 2013 Mòine Bordeaux Finish
  • The Coterie Release 2020: 2012 Rum Cask
  • Fèis Ìle 2018: Spanish Oak Finish
  • New Acquaintance 2021 Release
  • Fèis Ìle 2019: 2008 Moine French Oak 
  • Fèis Ìle 2021: 2001 Marsala Finish
  • 1980 Canasta

Distillery Tours

The new visitor centre at Bunnahabhain is a stunning place to sit and enjoy a taste of Bunnahabhain while gazing out over the bay and the Sound of Ilsay, watching the world go by.  Relax, enjoy and soak up the tranquility of the most remote distillery on Islay

Tasting Details:

  • Stiuireadair
  • 12 year old
  • 18 year old
  • WH9 Dram
  • Fèis Special Release

DURATION:

About 1 hour

DRAMS

4 drams

COST

£35 per person

The new visitor centre at Bunnahabhain is a stunning place to sit and enjoy a taste of Bunnahabhain while gazing out over the bay and the Sound of Ilsay, watching the world go by.  Relax, enjoy and soak up the tranquility of the most remote distillery on Islay

4 drams cask strength drams comprising some single cask expressions from our WH9 casks and from some of our annual Limited Editions/Special Releases:

DURATION:

About 1 hour

DRAMS

4 drams

COST

£40 per person

The new visitor centre at Bunnahabhain is a stunning place to sit and enjoy a taste of Bunnahabhain while gazing out over the bay and the Sound of Ilsay, watching the world go by.  Relax, enjoy and soak up the tranquility of the most remote distillery on Islay

Tasting Details:

5 drams comprising

  • Bunnahabhain 25 year old
  • Bunnahabhain 30 year old
  • Bunnahabhain 40 year old
  • Bunnahabhain 46 year old
  • Bunnahabhain 1997 Moine PX Limited Release

There will be an opportunity at the end of the tasting to purchase a bottle of your favourite sample in our visitor centre shop.  

DURATION:

About 1 hour

DRAMS

5 drams

COST

£275 per person
 

The Warehouse 9 tasting at Bunnahabhain is one of our most popular experiences at the distillery and a must visit while on Islay for whisky lovers. Behind the No9 black door our converted floor maltings are now home to our Bunnahabhain whisky maturing in the very best American and European oak casks.  Surrounded by our maturing inventory you will be able to enjoy an exclusive tasting of unpeated and peated (Moine) Bunnahabhain – straight from the cask. 

Tasting Details:

4 Drams

DURATION:

About 2 hours

COST

£40 per person

Visitor center 

 

OPENING TIMES

January – December

OPENING TIMES

 

 

 

 

Day Times
Monday 10:00 16:00
Tuesday 10:00 16:00
Wednesday 10:00 16:00
Thursday 10:00 16:00
Friday 10:00 16:00
Saturday  10:00 16:00
Sunday  10:00 16:00

 

CONTACT DETAILS

Bunnahabhain Distillery
Port Askaig
Isle of Islay
Argyll
PA46 7RP
United Kingdom
Bunnahabhain social media links

Livingbythedram social media links 

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