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

November 6, 2021





Angus's Corner
From our correspondent and
skilled taster Angus MacRaild in Scotland
I was on Islay, very briefly, this week for the first time in over two years and, I have to say, it was genuinely wonderful to return. Time was short but I got to visit two of my favourite distilleries: Bruichladdich and Ardbeg. We'll have a few Bruichladdichs today, but I've got some Ardbeg notes for the near future as well, and on top of that quite a few of the peated Laddie makes to try at some point as well. No doubt we'll get to them all, sooner or later. The one thing that stuck in my mind from both distilleries was that things seem to be going in encouraging directions with regards quality - both have genuinely wonderful new bottlings on the shelves - and people also seem a bit happier these days. All good news I am glad to report.


Bruichladdich 13yo 1984/1997 (59.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #23.26)

Bruichladdich 13yo 1984/1997 (59.0%, Scotch Malt Whisky Society #23.26)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: pretty classic 'this era' Bruichladdich, so soft green fruits, lightly coastal, citrus rinds, some mashed vegetables and wee notes of canvass, olive oil and wet rocks. Pretty charming stuff. With water: becomes drier, leafier, more towards rolling tobacco, moss, cereals and umami vibes. Mouth: elegantly honeyed and lightly salty arrival. More of these impressions of root vegetables baked with honey, sandalwood, tobacco, lemon oil, bergamot and dried flowers. Also a nicely rich and honeyed mouthfeel, which is enjoyable. With water: the texture becomes fatter and oilier, some white stone fruits, waxed canvass, lanolin, lemon cough drops, putty and mint. Nicely charismatic and coastal. Finish: good length, rather salty, umami, fresh breads, pepper, eucalyptus and more hessian and olive oil. Comments: an excellent and charismatic wee Bruichladdich, although probably more a slow sipper than a session dram.
SGP: 462 - 87 points.



Bruichladdich 10 yo 2011/2021 'Bere Barley' (50%, OB, bourbon)

Bruichladdich 10 yo 2011/2021 'Bere Barley' (50%, OB, bourbon)
Colour: white wine. Nose: really the definition of modern barley eau de vie. A highly specific and I think truly excellent style. Intensely focussed on sourdough breads, scone mix, saison beers, crystallised lemon rinds, poire williams, tiny medicinal touches such as lanolin, pollen-heavy white flowers, chalk and sunflower oil. I really find this extremely charming and superb quality. With water: becomes broader, and quite a bit waxier, more white flowers, pollens and stone fruits. Almost begins to resemble some rather naked modern Springbank with these waxy and medicinal vibes. Mouth: natural and highly charismatic malt whisky! Rye breads, sourdough starter, herbal ointments, olive oil, sandalwood, wee briny saline notes, citrus peels, pink grapefruit and mixed dried herbs. A style that incorporates both old school and modern aspects in one profile, which is smart and brilliant I think. With water: wonderfully taut, mineral, precise and yet also becoming more complex and incorporating more of these various bready, beery, waxy, citric, floral and coastal qualities. The texture is also superbly oily and mouth-filling: engages every part of the palate. Finish: long, taut, salty, light citrus acidity, mineral salts, olive oil, wax and white pepper. Comments: ingredients + process + patience = brilliant whisky. I've waxed lyrical about these batches before, so I will simply say I think this is totally terrific, fun, pleasurable, very high quality whisky that people should endeavour to try, and take note of. I love how these batches seem to be developing a waxy quality as they age. I just checked, and at £75 a bottle, in my view this is bang for your buck. Oh, and one final thing, will the people who say barley varieties make no difference please go away and shut up. Thank you.
SGP: 562 - 90 points.



Bruichladdich 28 yo 1992/2021 'Black Art 09.1' (44.1%, OB, 2021)

Bruichladdich 28 yo 1992/2021 'Black Art 09.1' (44.1%, OB, 2021)
Colour: copper. Nose: gently leafy with sultana, tobacco and milk chocolate. The appearance of a nicely easy and older style sherry profile at first nosing. Also some fig, underlying riper green fruits, candied walnuts and wee touches of hessian and praline. Very enjoyable and easy so far, thankfully an absence of any obvious funky wine inclusions too. Mouth: ok, spoke too soon, a feeling of wine casks at play rather quickly on arrival in the mouth. These notes of almond oil, marzipan, balsamic onions, treacle sponge pudding, crusted port, putty and funny slightly plastic impressions of Bakelite and plasticine. Tizer, rosehip, maraschino juices and cherry bakewell. Many pleasant notes individually, but I'm not sure they hold together. Finish: medium, a slight bitterness, some more milk chocolate, herbal extracts, eucalyptus, tobacco and blackcurrant. Comments: nose was lovely, palate not really my cup of malt. At least you cannot criticise Bruichladdich for lack of diversity amongst their releases. I just don't think all these various wine casks really add anything to their otherwise superb distillates. I'm sure they would say that this sort of bottling is not really aimed at overly opinionated grouches like me.
SGP: 651 - 83 points.



Bruichladdich 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.8%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #2666, 1st fill barrel, 215 bottles)

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2008/2021 (59.8%, Dramfool 'Jim McEwan Signature Collection', cask #2666, 1st fill barrel, 215 bottles)
Colour: pale gold. Nose: fresh barley, cooking oils, hessian, wet rocks, crushed seashells and ozone. These batches at this age are becoming pretty impeccable I think. Also wee notes of ink, sheep wool, clay, rockpools - a style that straddles the shoreline and the farmyard very cleverly. With water: almost goes towards swimming pools, brake fluid, elastoplasts, mineral oils, clay and ointments. Superb distillate! Mouth: a little hot and peppery with the high abv, but there's impressive notes of chlorophyl, petrol, barley water, citrons, lanolin and freshly milled grist. Lots of focus on raw ingredients and weight, textural distillate. I also some find some vegetal notes and an increasing fatness with things like olive oil and pasta water. With water: still excellent, but these same ever so slightly mechanical / chemical sides are a tad funny. Really a lot of plasticine, clay, minerals, toolbox cloths and oils. We are certainly a very long way from boring. Finish: good length, rather salty, fresh, peppery, drying, faintly waxy - excellent! Comments: we're skirting the same levels of quality as the OB Bere Barley, I had this at bang on the 90 mark but those tiny chemical aspects probably dock it a single point. But we're quibbling quite a bit here because this is terrific distillate.
SGP: 472 - 89 points.



I know we should technically wait, but let's have one peaty one for the road…



Port Charlotte 8 yo 2013/2021 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, 7 years in bourbon with 25% finished in French wine casks)

Port Charlotte 8 yo 2013/2021 'Islay Barley' (50%, OB, 7 years in bourbon with 25% finished in French wine casks)
It can be a bit hard to keep track of the maturation profiles / recipes for these bottlings sometimes, but the sheer dedication to cask juggling is admirable. Just thinking about the spreadsheets required to keep track of these things makes me queasy - I barely managed GSCE grace C in maths after all! Colour: pale gold. Nose: soft, creamy smokiness, some soot, oyster juice, grapefruit and seawater. A gentler style of Port Charlotte perhaps? Feels very fresh and coastal with quite a few saline and mineral inclusions. With water: feels a little more typically like Port Charlotte now with these slightly more farmyard smoky tones, frying pancetta, smoked olive oil and camphor. Mouth: if there is wine, it is well concealed, instead we've got some rich and satisfyingly chewy peat smoke, smoked grist, tar, iodine drops and TCP. Classic, modern and super-fresh Islay whisky. Olive brine, pickling juice, gentle creosote impressions and a nicely warming peppery side. Hard to argue with this. With water: wonderfully creamy still, great weight and smoky richness in the mouth. Peppery, kipper smoke, tar, medicines and seawater - but it's the texture that wins. Finish: long, lemony, salty, lots of persistent oiliness and sooty smoke. Comments: my guard is always up when I see wine in the recipe, but its influence is pretty invisible here to me. Feels like they are really nailing this approach to cask tinkering these days. This is not hugely complex, but it's clearly Port Charlotte and it's immensely quaffable. This textural aspect also lends it a feeling of maturity beyond its years, which is pretty clever in my wee book.
SGP: 467 - 87 points.



You're right! It would be rude to stop at just one…



Lochindaal 10 yo 2010/2021 (53.5%, North Star, refill barrel, 288 bottles)

Lochindaal 10 yo 2010/2021 (53.5%, North Star, refill barrel, 288 bottles)
Lochindaal sits somewhere between Port Charlotte and Octomore in terms of peating level, around 50-55 PPM I believe. I have tried barely any of them so I couldn't tell you yet whether they tend more towards the latter or the former. Colour: this one does indeed seem to sit between its two siblings rather perfectly. On one hand this very 'Octomorish' blade of pure, brilliant white peat smoke; on the other there's a more rustic, farmyard Port Charlotte aspect too. Also many thick notes of medicines, antiseptics, tar buckets, seawater and smoked mackerels slathered in black pepper and olive oil. Really great so far. With water: a wonderful mix of mercurochrome, seawater, anchovies, tar and a thick carpet of peat smoke and hessian. Still this almost 'Brora-esque' farmyard element. Mouth: densely tarry, oily and thickly peaty on arrival. The texture and 'fatness' of the distillate certainly lean more towards Port Charlotte here, which I'm very happy about. I also find a lot of pickling juices, preserved lemon brine, sardines and muddled green olives. With water: more crystalline, straight, saline and pure now. Metallic peat, raw seawater, green olives in a dirty martini and fermenting lemon juice. Hugely charismatic whisky. Finish: extremely long, robustly smoky, tarry, medicinal, some dried herbs, smoked olive oil and many more sharp coastal flavours. Comments: I feel Lochindaal is always destined to exist in comparison to its siblings, however, when the whisky is this charismatic and excellent I think that's no bad thing. I had it around 89 but water propelled it over the 90 line. A great and extremely fun dram and a very smart selection by Crouching Iain.
SGP: 478 - 90 points.




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