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Hi, this is one of our (almost) daily tastings. Santé!

December 11, 2018


Bruichladdich with a blaze of glory

… In the end. Indeed we should have something very special today. And rare… But first, let’s go vertical if you don’t mind…

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Lynne McEwan’ (64.4%, OB, Valinch, Rivesaltes, cask #1308, 396 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 ‘Lynne McEwan’ (64.4%, OB, Valinch, Rivesaltes, cask #1308, 396 bottles) Three stars
We’ve seen some very crazy valinches! In this case it’s #32, which is not the age statement mind you. It’s ex-Rivesaltes wood, Rivesaltes being a very large area in the south of France where they make various kinds of fortified wines (muté), from white to red. Not too sure about the cask they’ve used this time, the colour of the whisky may tell. Colour: blimey, it is not exactly pink, rather amber, so not sure it was red Rivesaltes. Nose: totally grape-y, you’re almost nosing fresh muscat grapes or juice. But that rather works, it’s very sweet, muscaty, and not very malty. But at 64.4% vol., you know… With water: notes of walnuts, vin jaune, kirsch, peach leaves (works greatly in lieu of sulphur to protect barrels, by the way), and pine cones. Nice. Mouth (neat): explosive! Cherry stems, perhaps, leaves, grapes… And a lot of alcohol. With water: back to whisky. Pleasant cocktail, rather earthier than expected, with some cherries as well. Some pepper in the background, perhaps from European oak. It’s always funny to notice that spirits extract a lot of pepper from European oak, while wines rather do not. Finish: rather long and quite spicy. Gingerbread, cherry and cinnamon mints. Comments: would you recognise the distillery? I would not (yeah, except that we know that Bruichladdich are into crazy wine casks) but it’s pretty good.
SGP:651 - 82 points.

Good, same age and vintage, no wine this time, let’s see…

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.2%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, cask #657, 258 bottles)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2007/2018 (62.2%, Dramfool, bourbon barrel, cask #657, 258 bottles) Four stars
Melons? Peaches? Sea breeze? Vanilla? Colour: straw. Nose: melons, peaches, sea breeze, vanilla (easy), plus touches of lemon curd plus flints and a little paraffin. With water: there, this is plainly Bruichladdich, very fresh, on yellow fruits and that walk throughout a western orchard. Peaches indeed, plums, etcetera. Also sunflower oil. Mouth (neat): rather greasier, more mineral, almost inorganic if you will, and very strong. More paraffin. With water: no, fruity! Melons and lemons (well done again, S.), a little gritty grass (stop it!) and a few soft green spices. Perhaps fresh coriander, somewhere. Finish: rather long, very fresh, grassier. Comments: exactly Bruichladdich, I would have said. No crazy wine or oak in the way but a good barrel that did its job properly. Reminds me of the first new 10 (or Ten), so it’s perfect.
SGP:551 - 87 points.

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Mercenary)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.6%, The Whisky Mercenary) Five stars
For bandana people only, perhaps? Colour: white wine. Nose: bang! Crystal-clean, totally pure Bruichladdichness. Amazing nose, with white peaches, yellow melons, fresh almonds and hazelnuts, and grapefruits. Hurray. With water: sublime earth, chalk, clay, barley… Mouth (neat): extraordinary, that’s all I’ll say. Not too sure a special refill barrel hasn’t been used (like ex-Ardbeg or stuff) but indeed this is brilliant, extremely fresh, and yet wonderfully sooty (which, I agree,  isn’t totally Bruichladdich). Lemon, wulong, chalk, ink… With water: exceptionally pure, and even a tad medicinal. That cask again? Grapeseed oil, oysters, lemon juice, the tiniest drop of tabasco… Finish: sadly, yes (as we used to write with the early Malt maniacs – boy weren’t we clever!) Comments: totally impressed. It would be cool if someone would start a collection of whiskies that are idiosyncratically representative of their respective distillates, wouldn’t it? This terrific wee Laddie would surely belong in there.
SGP:561 - 90 points (one extra-point for love).

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2005/2018 (52.5%, Archives, barrel, cask #1470, 139 bottles) Five stars
More fish! Colour: white wine. Nose: it is, as expected, extremely similar. Perhaps a notch grassier? And a tad more mentholy? With water: lovely. Mouth (neat): okay. A touch of gentian. With water: lovely, nothing to add. Perhaps a few mushroomy notes, perhaps not. Finish: long, fresh, earthy, etc. Comments: an epitome indeed. It’s the purity that just strikes you. D.i.s.t.i.l.l.a.t.e.
SGP:561 - 90 points.

Older ones now…

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1993/2018 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 204 bottles)

Bruichladdich 24 yo 1993/2018 (46.9%, Cadenhead, Authentic Collection, hogshead, 204 bottles) Four stars and a half
Crikey, I checked Cadenhead’s website just to see if they would have come up with different descriptors, and only found peaches and melons. Now the ‘Gingersnap biscuits’ in the finish are intriguing… Colour: straw. Nose: it’s different from the 2005/2007s, with more sunflower oil, peanut oil, apple peels, peanut butter (really), all-herbs tea, tree bark, and indeed melons and peaches. Mouth: no no no, another rather terrific one, what’s happening? Herbal teas, a little camphor, green oranges (rather the pastries some are making out of them), lemons, space cake (I know, I know, but I’m claiming the privilege of age!) and beeswax. Finish: medium, herbal. And gingersnap biscuits (gotta believe the bottlers anyway) – what’s gingersnap biscuits? These notes of caramelised gingerbread, perhaps? That’s good! Comments: seriously, another very excellent one, it’s just a tad less ‘pure’, which is normal given the older age. But there…
SGP:561 - 88 points.

Shall we go on? Sure!

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1992/2018 (52.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3838, 229 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1992/2018 (52.8%, Single Malts of Scotland, hogshead, cask #3838, 229 bottles) Four stars and a half
This strange feeling, you know, when you know that the spirit cannot be bad, and when you know that you’ll just have to explain why you think it’s good. In a way, this is a kind of straightjacket and we might start to complain, I mean… Colour: white wine. Nose: why the hell have spirits that were just average twenty years ago become so good? While no one’s done any re-racking that anyone could notice? So fruit peelings, oils, and touches of medicinal mixtures. That’s enough. With water: clay and damp chalk. Whenever that happens, I’m almost in paradise. Mouth (neat): perhaps a little hot. That’s right, it is a little hot. There. With water: great malt, oranges, apples, melons, lemons… Almost forgot to mention peaches. A very wee prickly side, but we’re splitting hairs now. Finish: medium, tense, almost sparkling, like Champagne! Not those dosed-up commercial bubblies mind you, rather good terroirs Champagnes by great winemakers. Have a soft spot for Charles Dufour and Henri Giraud these days, although their styles are very different. Comments: no need.
SGP:551 - 88 points.

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.8%, OB for CSW China, French oak, cask # 15/287-22, 276 bottles)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1991/2017 (48.8%, OB for CSW China, French oak, cask # 15/287-22, 276 bottles) Three stars and a half
French oak? I suppose that means wine cask, let’s check the colour… Unless that’s cognac wood? Colour: apricot. Nose: apricot jam indeed, marzipan, e-cig liquid (yep a new descriptor on WF!), Danishes, raisins, mirabelles… We’re far from the pure ones, but I wouldn’t say they didn’t achieve balance and harmony. Mouth: sweet and rounded, very jammy, good, just a wee tad soapy. A very faintly wee tad. Then ripe plums, muscat, Rivesaltes (eh?) and hawthorn tea. We’re good. Finish: long, on raisins, leaves, stems, and green pepper. We’re good indeed, but it may be suffering a bit after the pretty perfect natural ones. Comments: it’s just that the original ones are killing any wined ones in my book. Wine in whisky has become unnecessary since the late XIXth century, you know that’s one of my mantras. But this one sure isn’t bad!
SGP:551 - 84 points.

Good, I believe we now need some kind of conclusion. If you’ve read blogs that have copied blogs that had copied blogs that had copied books, you may remember that Bruichladdich used to peat their whisky until the good year of 1960. Granted, the tall stills couldn’t have made any Ardbeg or Laphroaig, but the pre-1960 Bruichladdichs have hence become extremely legendary, even more so when you know that only two expressions of pure peated Bruichladdich have ever been bottled, namely two rare old Cadenhead’s that were distilled in the late 1950s and bottled in the 1980s. Why not try one of them?


Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy)

Bruichladdich 25 yo 1958/1984 (92 US proof, Cadenhead Dumpy) Five stars
Indeed that young little bugger named Angus already tried this one one good month ago. I’m asking you, where’s the respect? Colour: pale white wine. Cool, we’ll get closer to the spirit! Nose: ah, and now for something different! Never nosed something like this. I’m thinking fresh rubber, leatherette, burning plastic (only wee bits, no worries), and then fresh nuts, seashells, green tea, then mango peels, then Colgate toothpaste, then green melons (melons, already!), then brine and coaly oils, engine oil, raw wool, brand new tweed jacket, old books, new electronics… In short this is very flabbergasting, and one cannot not wonder why they stopped making this kind back in 1960. Now I’m sure they had good reasons, but seen from almost sixty years later, that all sounds odd. Mouth: some glorious, blazing peat! Not transmuted peat, not ideas of peat, not tropical fruits that came from peat, rather raw, pure, fat peat. And please believe me, we’ve tried quite a few very old peaters from the south shore that had become much less peaty than this Bruichladdich over the years in glass. Yep, Ardbeg, Laphroaig, and Lagavulin. No, Port Ellen wasn’t working. So, loads of smoked fish, especially smoked salmon, clams and whelks, brine, barnacles, some kinds of tarry lozenges, then more citrus, grapefruits, bamboo shoots, old chenin blanc, seawater, and all that. Oh would you please call the Anti-Maltoporn Brigade before we start to use pornographic descriptors? Finish: long. Passion fruits and mangos, plus precious cough syrups. Comments: holy featherless crow! What happened? This is a new whisky to me, while it spent 25 years in (gentle) wood plus 35 years in glass! It really is exceptional, and you cannot not wonder what would have happened, had someone not decided to go unpeated sometime in 1960. My year, by the way, but that’s not of the utmost importance, is it. No, really, what an insane discovery! It was in the books, it’s now in my tasting library – what some call a milestone, I suppose. This sort of thing is why I’m still doing Whiskyfun, by the way.
SGP:565 - 95 points.

(Muchas gracias Emmanuel and Tom)

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