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

May 29, 2023


  Many Islay, in celebration of Feis Ile 2023 and of the Queen of the Hebrides


A few flying Bruichladdich

It's been a while since we last tasted a small batch of Bruichladdich. The brand seems to have become a little more discreet over here, even though it belongs to a French group. Ah, the French, don't get me started! By the way, we'll save any Lochindaal, Port Charlotte, and Octomore for another day, if you agree...




Bruichladdich 17 yo 2004/2022 (52.1%, Rest & Be Thankful, bourbon barrel, cask #1433, 154 bottles)

Bruichladdich 17 yo 2004/2022 (52.1%, Rest & Be Thankful, bourbon barrel, cask #1433, 154 bottles) Four stars and a half
This bottler always has very beautiful labels. Oh, and very beautiful spirits too, of course, even though the prices seem rather a little high to me. Colour: gold. Nose: it's a bit more yeasty than others, with a slight smokiness reminiscent of the very first batches after the reopening, which were having a slight peatiness. But did they continue that until 2004? I can't remember... Ouch! Otherwise, we have the classic melon, blood orange, a hint of seawater, fresh almonds, brioche dough, and it's all rather perfect. It even reminds me a bit of the 1970 and 1971 releases they did after the takeover. What whiskies! With water: even more fresh brioche, perhaps a bit of French toast, orange blossom, gazelle horns... And a bit of smoke. Coal stove. Palate (neat): it's really, really good, with melon coming through incredibly well. We'll add some Mandarine Napoléon and cassata, as well as candied fruits, angelica... With water: some fruit peels add a more herbaceous side. Also some orange. Finish: medium length, quite oily for Bruichladdich, with notes of orange, marmalade, and once again, fresh brioche. Melon brioche, can you make that? Comments: this fruitiness is just perfect. We'll try to taste a very old Bruichladdich to finish this session and see if there are any similarities.

SGP: 651 - 88 points.

Pause: just to make sure, a Bruichladdich distilled in the early weeks after the reopening, let's check if there is indeed some peat...
Bruichladdich 2001/2008 'Resurrection' (46%, OB, bourbon, 24,000 bottles)
Of course, I've already tasted it in 2008, and even quite loved it (WF 87). But just as a reminder... Nose: yes, there is smoke, burnt wood, sea spray, that famous melon, hay... They didn't miss their mark, that's for sure. Palate: oh yes, it's peaty! But it pairs very well with the blood orange and melon. No complaints, a very beautiful young Bruichladdich that has also benefited from these past fifteen years in the bottle, it seems to me. Well, let's move on to the next one...

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2002/2022 (55.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 161 bottles).

Bruichladdich 20 yo 2002/2022 (55.3%, Maltbarn, bourbon cask, 161 bottles) Four stars and a half
We're still right after the reopening. We had such a great time at the distillery back then! We even enjoyed a giant lobster barbecue at the Port Charlotte Hotel. Andrew Jefford mentions it in his famous book about Islay. But enough of these silly little anecdotes... Colour: white wine. Nose: you've just opened a pack of mint candies, and then you'll indulge in English sweets and soft liquorice. Only later will the famous blood oranges and iconic melon tickle your nostrils. However, the coastal aspect is not very evident this time. With water: not much change, rather heading towards baguette and croissant dough. I think I did mention the owner is French... Mouth (neat): it's beautiful, completely in line with the 2004 expression, just with a bit more apple and pear peel. Strangely, there's less smoke. Maybe the 2004 was distilled just after a Port Charlotte run? With water: simply superb fruitiness, leaning towards canned peaches this time. Finish: long, more lemony. Very refreshing. Comments: I think this would be perfect with an outstanding gravlax.
SGP: 651 - 88 points.

It's quite remarkable to see these batches reach maturity after having witnessed them passing through the spirit safe. That being said, when it comes to Bruichladdich, wine was also a significant factor back then...

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2009/2022 (59.4%, Rest & Be Thankful, wine cask, 257 bottles).

Bruichladdich 12 yo 2009/2022 (59.4%, Rest & Be Thankful, wine cask, 257 bottles) Two stars and a half
Well, we know this baby spent its entire life in a wine cask, but we're not quite sure which wine it was. However, the whisky's heavily salmon-hued colour indicates that it was a red wine... Colour: salmon, copper. Nose: quite a bit of gunpowder at the beginning, this cask was probably 'mèché' before making its way to Islay. Perhaps it was one of those white wines from Sauternes that change colour so quickly, after all. Strawberry and apricot jam, quince paste, flint, gunflint... I'm not entirely sure I'm a big fan this time. With water: buds, buds, buds... Mouth (neat): bitter orange, a metallic aspect, still that black powder, blackcurrant, a peony character... With water: well, there's a rubber and bell pepper note coming through. Finish: long, with the same flavours lingering. A very young Saint-Émilion in the aftertaste. Comments: as they say, great, but not exactly for me. However, the colour is extraordinary and the spirit is bold. Well...
SGP: 571 - 78 points.

As an act of contrition (perhaps)...

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2003/2022 (57.1%, Rest & Be Thankful, sherry cask, cask #1347, 115 bottles).

Bruichladdich 18 yo 2003/2022 (57.1%, Rest & Be Thankful, sherry cask, cask #1347, 115 bottles) Three stars
Only 115 bottles, that's really not a lot. It would be quite a mishap if it turned out to be a leaking butt after all these years. However, we've already tasted a few clearly damaged casks (poor patching, leaks, etc.) that turned out to be marvellous in the end. Colour: golden yellow. Nose: it makes you forget about the 'wine cask' in a fraction of a second. Nut cake, old agricole rum, sweet spices, a hint of earthiness, a touch of miso, a bit of fermented plum sauce... With water: it becomes more fermentary, with country bread, pumpernickel, some notes of old copper coins, even more miso, tofu, black mushrooms... Mouth (neat): it's really powerful and spicy, I wasn't expecting that. Pad Thai, caramel sauce... Now you just have to choose: chicken, beef, or shrimp? With water: lots of tobacco, ginger, Thai coriander, and cardamom... And green walnut. It's still intense. Finish: long and earthier. Clove, chili, and turmeric in the aftertaste. Comments: as often, the bourbon version has strongly outperformed the wine casks, but of course, it's a matter of personal taste.
SGP: 562 - 82 points.

Alright, this old Bruichladdich that I promised you...

Bruichladdich 1983/1995 (50%, Moon Import, De Viris Illustribus, 1,050 bottles).

Bruichladdich 1983/1995 (50%, Moon Import, De Viris Illustribus, 1,050 bottles) Four stars
Moon (nothing to do with the cult - right) was the first to use images from old books to illustrate their labels (apparently from a single book), even adopting really unlikely themes like cars, fish, or English monarchs (no, really!). Colour: gold. Nose: initially a very, very slight hint of sulphur, which then develops into dried fruits, figs, raisins, candied chestnuts, followed by umeshu, pipe tobacco, a touch of peat, hoisin sauce... It's truly tertiary in terms of aromas. With water: the water brings out flint, bitter oranges, fresh concrete... Mouth (neat): very lovely, very consistent with the nose, a bit meaty, mentholated, with some tar, tarmac, liquorice, a second glass of umeshu, new rubber, more tobacco... With water: I don't think the label says it's sherry, but if it isn't, I'll become a monk (they would be quite puzzled). Finish: long, predominantly nutty and with mutton fat. Well, a bit of mutton fat. Orange marmalade in the aftertaste. Comments: it's quite excellent, but between us, the ex-bourbons will have these more wine-influenced versions for breakfast. So, perhaps we should have ended this session with the ex-bourbons, I agree with you.
SGP: 562 - 86 points.

(Experimentally translated from French by ChatSomething, which we've done with just a few sessions, not all published yet. I think we won't do it again).

(Thanks as ever, Tomislav !)

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