North Star Bunnahabhain 2013 8-Year-Old Oak Barrel Exclusive Single Malt Scotch Whisky

North Star

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The Whisky

The latest exclusive single malt to be released by The Oak Barrel is a partnership with one of our favourite independent bottlers, North Star. The North Star Bunnahabhain 8-Year-Old Oak Barrel exclusive is a single barrel that was distilled in April 2013, finished in an oloroso hogshead and bottled in May 2021, un-chill filtered and natural colour, yielding just 366 bottles.


The Story

Recently The Oak Barrel experienced a changing of the guards as long-time Whisky and Spirits Educator and fixture within the Aussie whisky community, Scott Fitzsimons finally, and at long last, moved on to greener pastures. When his successor, Josh Fischer, found out that there was an entire barrel of whisky enroute that he had never tried he was anxious. That was, until he heard that it was not only from an internationally renowned independent bottler, but also from one of his favourite distilleries; an unpeated Islay delight from Bunnahabhain

We’re currently living through one of biggest booms in the history of whisky. It is an exciting time to be a whisky enthusiast, as we have access to more variety of whisky, more information and greater whisky communities than ever before. However, one of the downsides of this boom is that it has become ever harder to source quality, single barrel whiskies from Islay and even more difficult to release them at a reasonable price. We’re thrilled to be able to offer you exactly that with this release, and it was only possible due to the special relationship and the history between North Star and The Oak Barrel.

Through the concerted efforts of Scott Farrow of Wonderland Drinks, North Star is now a well-known and beloved brand in Australia and its allocation is a much-anticipated part of the whisky calendar. However, this wasn’t always the case. The Oak Barrel is very proud of the fact that it was one of the early supporters of North Star here in Australia. It is only because of this history and relationship between Scott Fitzsimons (previously) of The Oak Barrel, Scott Farrow of Wonderland Drinks and Iain Croucher of North Star that we are able to bring you this incredible whisky today.

The process of picking this barrel was a long and winding one. Originally this collaboration with North Star was meant to be a Linkwood; which will come as no surprise to those who are familiar with Scotty. However, in the end, and much to the joy of new Whisky and Spirits educator, Josh, the Bunnahabhain won out.


The Tasting Notes

When Scott and Iain first were trying samples of this release it presented as a delicious albeit big, brash and dirty Bunnahabhain. It mellowed out considerably prior to bottling, however, freshly upon opening it stills contains some mild phenolic traces. What’s truly incredible about this whisky is the transformation it underwent after being open for several weeks: it became more rounded and notes described as “bmx inner tubes” by Iain instead were replaced by beautiful brown sugar and sweet cereal notes. In all of its iterations this Bunnahabhain was a delight, but we were pleasantly surprised by just how good it gets.

We look forward to sharing this whisky with you: one of the last opportunities to try an Oak Barrel whisky selected by the legend that is Scott Fitzsimons.

Official Tasting Notes by Iain Croucher

Nose: Honeyed cider, BMX inner tubes, in a good way

Palate: Plum fruity wine with crushed cashew nuts

Finish: Sherry-fuelled, with mint dark chocolate…. After eights!


The Oak Barrel’s Tasting Notes

An amalgam of notes from The Oak Barrel team. Please note these notes were based off a bottle that had been open for roughly a month.


Blake: Candied orange peel, cacao nibs, toffee, leather, cedar.

Josh: Brown sugar, cornflakes, spiced mead.

Pete: Vanilla and golden syrup.

Paul: Cedar wood, almonds, apple and earthiness.

Tom: Honey, nutmeg, handfuls of barley.


Blake: Stewed apple, light caramel, gentle earth, warm baking spices, almond.

Josh: The brown sugar from the nose makes itself known on the palate, accompanied by toffee apple, a whisper of smoke and a zingy line of spice.

Pete: Dried apple and charred caramel.

Paul: Sweet and fruity.

Tom: Maple syrup, roasted pineapple, prunes, brioche.


Blake: Firm oak tannins, lingering dryness with gentle bitterness.

Josh: Lingering finish of tablet (the Scottish sweet, not the electronic device) and cocoa powder.

Pete: Butterscotch and subtle, lingering smoke on the finish.

Paul: Soft finish reminiscent of muscat liqueur.




Single Malt
North Star