24 drams till Christmas tasting #17: Bladnoch 2001 11 yo lightly peated Sherry cask 280

Bladnoch 2001 11 yo lightly peated Sherry cask 280Dram data:
Distillery: Bladnoch
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 16.11.2001
Bottled: 25.06.2013
Age: 11 years
Limitation: –
Casks: Sherry cask #280
Alcohol: 55%
unchillfiltered; natural colour
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
The nose, although it is not a triple distilled whisky, is initially that of a typical, light, fruity, sherried Lowlander. Slightly alcoholic (no wonder at 55% ABV and 11 years of age), with a noticeable citrus note, diluted dark fruit puree, spices (allspice and cloves), dried orange peel, molasses and fruit bread. Getting darker and more interesting as time passes on. But, wait, what’s that?

Oh, hello there, light, aromatic peat smoke! Just a few ppms, really, and easy to miss, but it’s there, adding more depth without being too obvious. With water: slight notes of hay appear and the citrus notes are accentuated. The palate is mouth-coating and oily on the arrival with an initial alcohol hit with citrus notes, immediately followed by a diluted, dried dark fruit puree and molasses. Quite big for a Lowlander, a lot closer to the triple-distilled Hazelburn than Auchentoshan (which is a bloody good thing in my book). Let’s add four espresso spoons of water to open the spirit up. Lost a bit of the oiliness, but it stays creamy and mouth-coating with additional notes of dried apricots and mango, milk chocolate, as well as spices (cloves and allspice) and an unmistakeable earthy, ever so slightly peaty background. The medium long finish has a high citrus/orange note upon swallowing, immediately followed by sweeter and darker dried fruit notes (raisins, plums, apricots and mango) with spices.

Yet another “non-designed” dram from the times when Raymond Armstrong and team owned and ran the Bladnoch distillery in Wigtown. A rather unconventional, lightly peated spirit meets a good sherry cask and produces a very engaging, initially light but increasingly dark and characterful malt. This is not one of those modern “designer” drams, you can taste good old-fashioned craftmanship and independent spirit. A very good malt in a very simple bottle, once available at a great price (50€), now increasingly hard to find since the distillery was closed, sold and is now slotted for reopening with bleak outlook for affordable volume bottlings in most markets anytime soon. However, since not many people are into the Lowland distilleries, there are still bottles out there. Grab them while you can…

Score: 86/100
(Nose: 86 Palate: 86 Finish: 84)

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