Age: No age statement
Toiteach is Gaelic for “smoky”, and that’s really about as much introduction as this whisky needs. Bunnahabhain normally produces whisky that’s barely peated at all (around 2 ppm), but they’ve decided to create something different with Toiteach. Very different. Because Toiteach is smoky. Very smoky. Let’s see how it compares to some of Bunnahabhain’s Islay neighbours, as well as Toiteach’s less peated siblings.
Nose: Immensely peaty and rather acrid. Medicinal aromas of iodine and fresh seaweed blend effortlessly with huge quantities of smoke and brine. Underneath this thick, somewhat obtrusive layer of peat it’s hard to discover much else, but with a bit of imagination you can find orchard fruits, bog myrtle and a whiff of heather. The nose also faintly reminds me of a Pritt Stick, with some unpleasant glue-like qualities to it. Completely different to a normal Bunna, but then again that’s exactly the point of this whisky.
Palate: Not surprisingly, very peaty, but more pleasant than the nose would suggest. It’s like peat smoke wafting over an Islay bog, with smoky and earthy notes taking centre stage. There’s not much else going on though, as this whisky is quite one-dimensional. Notes of caramel and black pepper do make an appearance, but the smoky character dominates.
Finish: Medium long and slightly underwhelming. Again there’s plenty of peat smoke, but the aftertaste is ashy, dry and a rather bitter.
Verdict: It’s always exciting when distilleries experiment, as it can lead to some unexpectedly delicious results. The likes of Octomore, Mackmyra and Glenfiddich IPA come to mind. However, for each success story there are inevitably some less palatable experiments, and for me Toiteach unfortunately falls into the latter category. Although it’s interesting to try a peated Bunnahabhain, I feel that in the case of Toiteach the peat is a bit overdone, leaving little room for other flavours to develop. While I would have loved to experience the interaction of the peat smoke with Bunnahabhain’s fresh, fruity character, that’s simply not happening here. So although I’m an avid peathead, I am not convinced by Toiteach, and would much rather buy the excellent Bunnahabhain 12 year old.