Three new laddies on the block: Bruichladdich Organic 2010, Islay Barley 2011 and Bere Barley 2010

Not one, not two, but three samples landed on my desk this week – and they share a common theme: “Barley exploration series” by Islay’s Bruichladdich distillery. This year they’ve bottled an organic whisky from 2010, produced with organic malt from Mid Coul farms in Inverness, an Islay barley release from 2011, grown by six different farms on the island, and, finally a Bere barley release distilled in 2010 from the ancient barley ancestor Bere, sourced from Orkney. All releases are bottled at a relatively young age, 7 or 8 years and were matured without fancy experimental casks in order to let the spirit shine. The cask makeup is not entirely the same, though, with the Organic and Bere release being fully ex-bourbon matured, while the Islay Barley does feature 25% ex-wine European oak casks, making a direct comparison of the barley influence between all three of them difficult.

It is extremely difficult to quantify the influence of “terroir” in whisky – in other words, the influence of the barley and its heritage. There are also the influences by malting, mashing, distilling, maturation, the casks used and the age of the whisky. While technically we don’t have an equal lineup where only the grain used is the differentiating factor, there is one of these three samples that stands out: Bere. It is drastically different as a grain, at one point it was responsible for breaking the distillery’s ancient mash tun – back when they used Bere grown on Islay. Bere is also different in one other aspect: Nose and taste. The influence on the spirit is remarkable, noticeably different from modern distilling barley varieties. This became apparent when I tasted an earlier release a while ago – will I be able to pick out the distinct Bere influence again? We shall see!

Continue reading “Three new laddies on the block: Bruichladdich Organic 2010, Islay Barley 2011 and Bere Barley 2010”
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Tasting: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 yo (2018 release)

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 yo (2018 release)

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 yo (2018 release)Dram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: Official Bottling
Distilled: –
Bottled: 2018
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: American and French oak
Alcohol: 50%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

It came and it went, came back as a limited release – and is now back as a permanent expression in Bruichladdich’s heavily peated “Port Charlotte” range – new packaging and all: The 10 year-old! In recent Bruichladdich fashion, they even tell us the recipe: 65% 1st fill American casks, 10% 2nd fill American casks and a whopping 25% 2nd fill French wine casks.
Two weeks ago I was able to sit down with Bruichladdich’s Cristy for an hour at the distillery and chat about what’s new and upcoming (more on that in a separate blog post). On that occasion, I was kindly given a bottle of this new expression before it went out for general release (which should start right about now), so let’s crack it and test it! Oh, one more thing: Apparently the new, bespoke bottles for Port Charlotte (I like the raised lettering in glass on the back!) feature an anti-dripping lip. Err, okay. I usually don’t spill whisky – but I did when I opened and poured this one. Make of that what you will… 😉

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 light gold
The nose has a fresh, peppery kick to it upon first contact. Freshly cracked pepper with mint and tangerine oil mixed with fragrant, noticeable but not overpowering peat smoke. It takes a few minutes to fully open up. Now we’ve got sooty peat smoke mixed with aromas of whisky-marinated lamb steak, light vanilla, a hint of red berries, juicy pears, squeezed grapes, and the very typical French oak spices in the background. Interesting how much of an influence this 25 % share of French casks makes! Even more time in the glass mellows the spirit even more, bringing more of the fruity, dark components to light. Let’s move on to the palate!  Continue reading “Tasting: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 yo (2018 release)”

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Tasting: Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006Dram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: official bottling
Distilled: 2006
Bottled: 2012
Age: ca. 6 yo
Limitation: 7650
Casks: –
Alcohol: 50%
uncoloured / unchillfiltered
Whiskybase link

By golly – it’s been over a week since my last post – I’m losing steam, and that’s not helped by the – yawn – constant PR onslaught of ever more expensive and ever more marketing-driven whiskies where one is less interesting than the previous one to the malt whisky veteran…
Right, that’s enough, Klaus, time to stop lamenting and do something. How about this nice bottle of Bruichladdich from the personal archives? Yes, that’ll do nicely!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 golden straw
At roughly 6 years of age, this is still a young dram, but the nose reveals a nice and fitting balance of spirit and cask (probably mostly fresh ex-bourbon casks). The two dominant flavours are vanilla and – bere! I was on Orkney earlier this year and brought back a pack of bere flour. I’ve been experimenting with it a bit, so it is easy to detect the very distinct, sweet, bready, malty flavour, which is 10x the intensity of “normal” malting barley. These two main aromas are supported by those of wet millstones, aged orange peel, toasted bannocks and just a pinch of kitchen spices. A rather simple, clean nose, but it’s the nuances and the malt influence that make it interesting – and make it work! Continue reading “Tasting: Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006”

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24 drams till christmas 2016 #7: Bruichladdich Octomore 10yo 2nd edition

Bruichladdich Octomore 10yo 2nd edition

Bruichladdich Octomore 10yo 2nd editionDram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 21.12.2005
Bottled: 31.10.2016
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: Ex-bourbon, Grenache Blanc
Alcohol: 57,3%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

We’ve taken a look at the new 10yo Bruichladdich and the new Port Charlotte – now it’s time to taste the new 10 yo heavily peated Octomore!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 dark reddish gold
The nose starts off with… smoke, smoke, smoke, smoke and more smoke. Just as with the new 10 yo Port Charlotte it is a campfire-type, fragrant smoke, not the “usual” phenolic, iodine south-coast Islay smoke. Did I mention smoke? And soot! And wet smoke from a fire being extinguished with water. Give it a few minutes and – ah – oh, there’s more than just smoke now! A dense, layered sweetness – smoky marmalade and mixed fruits jam (including strawberry) – paired with fresh ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, a slice of lemon and a pinch of nutmeg. An almost perfect marriage of smoke, smoke and smoke with fruits, sweetness and spices. Very good indeed. Let’s see what the palate has to offer! Continue reading “24 drams till christmas 2016 #7: Bruichladdich Octomore 10yo 2nd edition”

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24 drams till christmas 2016 #5: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10yo 2nd edition

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10yo 2nd edition

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10yo 2nd editionDram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 30.08.2006
Bottled: 27.10.2016
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: Ex-bourbon, sherry, Tempranillo, French wine
Alcohol: 50%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

After kicking off the “24 drams till christmas” series with the new and improved Laddie Ten, it’s about time to take a look at the new 10-year-old heavily peated Port Charlotte as well!

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 reddish gold
The nose is… ah so familiar! The gentle side of the Islay peat monsters – if those peat monsters can be gentle, that is. A huge hit of peat smoke on first nosing, but more on the peat campfire side, rather than the phenolic south-coast Islay drams. But there’s much more than just peat and I like how this is not slaughtered by overly active casks. Lurking behind the peat we’ve got sweet dark fruits (the odd fig and plum come to mind), light vanilla, toffee, dry red wine, grape seeds, aniseed, cloves, one single mint leaf, caramel candy, a mineral note and a pinch of salt (wet stones on the shore, perhaps?). Lots and lots going on, a very tight mixture of very subtle notes. I’ve never tried the old PC 10, so no comparison to that, but it noses slightly different and more multi-faceted than some other editions I’ve tried. Less in-your-face, more lighter, subtle characteristics. Continue reading “24 drams till christmas 2016 #5: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10yo 2nd edition”

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24 drams till christmas 2016 #1: Bruichladdich Laddie Ten 2nd edition

Bruichladdich Laddie Ten 2nd edition

Bruichladdich Laddie Ten 2nd editionDram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 26.07.2006
Bottled: 27.10.2016
Age: 10 years
Limitation: –
Casks: Ex-bourbon, sherry, French wine
Alcohol: 50%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

The “24 drams till Christmas” blog series is back – and so is Bruichladdich’s “Laddie 10”, after a two-year absence on the shelves due to a lack of stock. Is there any dram more fitting to kick off this year’s Christmas countdown?

Tasting notes:
Colour:
 honey gold
The nose is undeniably that of a laddie dram. Light in style yet sophisticated with immediate notes of citrus fruits, tinned tangerines, lychees and pomegranate. A light perfume note, too. Or is that chewing gum? Hubba bubba, perhaps. In the background we get grapes with skins, dry French red wine (I know it says so on the label, but it’s apparent), red berries (brambles, elderberries) with cream and a mixture of different oak spices. I don’t have an old bottle of laddie 10 open at the moment, but while it is recognizably a laddie dram, the French oak and wine cask influence are apparent, more apparent than my memory of previous batches before the temporary discontinuation. Continue reading “24 drams till christmas 2016 #1: Bruichladdich Laddie Ten 2nd edition”

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Tasting: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01 8 yo

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01 7 yo

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01 7 yoDram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 03.10.2007
Bottled: 21.01.2016
Age: 8 years
Limitation: –
Casks: French oak ex-cognac casks
Alcohol: 57,7%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
gold
The nose immediately met by a fragrant spicy-peaty mixture with a slight alcoholic note on top. Peaty bonfire smoke meets salted herrings, green apples, lemon and grapefruit peel, lemon and tangerine juice, with cinnamon, allspice and one clove on top. Quite fresh yet with loads going on thanks to the spicy French oak – and perhaps a hint of what was in the cask before… Continue reading “Tasting: Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01 8 yo”

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Tasting: Bruichladdich Laddie Eight

Bruichladdich Laddie Eight

Bruichladdich Laddie EightDram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: original bottling
Distilled: 10.03.2008
Bottled: 15.03.2016
Age: 8 years
Limitation: –
Casks: American and European oak
Alcohol: 50%
unchillfiltered and uncoloured
Whiskybase link

Tasting notes:
Colour:
white wine
The nose opens on the fresh, light, almost “springtime” side. Honest fresh, young 8-year-old whisky. An initial hit of alcohol after pouring the dram, but it mellows down quickly. Citrus peel, sherbet lemon, green and white apples, pears, green Kiwi (but not sour), sour apple drops with a pinch of salt. And then there’s something else – Freshly sprung herbs, possibly and hint of vanilla but there are traces of other spices not found in American oak – a whiff of cinnamon stick and allspice. Continue reading “Tasting: Bruichladdich Laddie Eight”

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Tasting: Octomore 2008 Virgin Oak cask sample

Octomore 2008 Virgin Oak cask sample

 Octomore 2008 Virgin Oak cask sampleDram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: official
Distilled: 2008
Bottled: sample drawn 2015
Age: 7-ish
Limitation: unavailable
Casks: virgin oak cask 1202
Alcohol: 64,4%%
unchillfiltered and natural colour

Tasting notes:
Colour:
dark amber
So Bruichladdich has done it again! The latest Octomore 7.4 “virgin oak” release is out. Well, all virgin oak? Nopedy nope! Only 25% of the liquid is actual full-time virgin oak matured. I haven’t got a sample of that one and a full bottle might exceed my budget, so let’s rummage through my sample cabinet – I think there might be something similar. Hey! What’s that? A 2008 virgin oak Octomore cask sample, drawn from the cask for the 2015 Feis Ile warehouse tasting with Jim McEwan. That’s the ticket! Uncut, unblended, let’s see what it’s like! On the nose there’s not that much peat. Well, that’s not surprising if you look at Bruichladdich’s stills, they produce a much lighter distillate than, say Laphroaig or Ardbeg. Still quite a lot of peat, but not overwhelming and that’s good! A slight alcoholic tingling, but you’d never guess this was 64% ABV! Very well-integrated! Fresh vanilla, vanilla pods, toasted cask, caramelised oak sap, Lapsang Souchong (unboilt), burning oak staves and a coal-fired steam engine squirting oil around, burnt toffee, heather, ginger, slightly toasted orange peel and a squirt of citrus providing a hint of distillery character. Continue reading “Tasting: Octomore 2008 Virgin Oak cask sample”

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Tasting: Bruichladdich 15/297/543 Cask Evolution Exploration – Port wood 12 yo

Bruichladdich 15/297/543 Cask Evolution Exploration - Port wood 12 yo

Bruichladdich 15/297/543 Cask Evolution Exploration - Port wood 12 yoDram data:
Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottler: Original bottling
Distilled: 18.06.2003
Bottled: 04.11.2015
Age: 12 years
Limitation: ca. 250 bottles
Casks: Single Port Hogshead 15/297/543
Alcohol: 60,1%
Unchillfiltered; uncoloured

Tasting notes:
Colour:
red cherry juice
The nose opens with surprisingly little alcohol. It’s there, but not 60% ABV there – no idea what they’ve done here but I like it! Toasted oak with slight cask smoke (that’s quercus robur talking loudly!), brambles, cassis, cherries, liquorice, roasted walnuts and assorted spices (again, that’s the oak talking). Continue reading “Tasting: Bruichladdich 15/297/543 Cask Evolution Exploration – Port wood 12 yo”

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