A couple of weeks ago we spent a very enjoyable evening in Stourbridge at Nickolls and Perks in the company of Craig Johnstone from Bruichladdich. For me, this was like going home – I’ve been to the Feis Ile twice and both times enjoyed Bruichladdich masterclasses from the the legend that is Jim McEwan. For Mike, this was to be a great first experience experience of a Bruichladdich tasting and a great appetiser for what awaits in May 2013.
Craig was on great form and throughout the tasting told us many stories about his history, Bruichladdich history (and future) and shared some lovely anecdotes about his experiences of working in the whisky industry. We won’t share them here as we don’t want to steal his thunder from future tastings, so we’ll let the whisky do the talking. First up was a whisky Bruichladdich are rightly very proud of – the first ten year old produced under the new regime.
Bruichladdich 10 [46%]
The first 10 year old produced since the distillery reopened in 2001. A lovely ‘entry level’ dram that would grace any shelf.
Nose: Lively, fresh and fruity. There is also a little smoke apparent in this ‘unpeated’ whisky
Palate: Fruity, clean and sweet. You can taste the history in this glass among the spices and smoke
Finish: Medium length, with the smoke carrying through
The next whisky shows the emphasis Bruichladdich place on Islay and its people, and also their desire to keep things local with a whisky that uses barley grown on Islay, to a spirit that was distilled on Islay, to a warehouse maturing the liquid on Islay, to a whisky bottled on Islay.
Bruichladdich 2006 Islay Barley [46%]
A quite remarkable whisky that can be traced back to one farm (Dunlossit) on Islay. The spirit may only be 5 years old but it has matured extremely well.
Nose: Lots of cereal and barley on this fresh nose. It is full of orange peel and cocoa
Palate: The freshness continues, hints of banana and oranges. Lovely and light
Finish: Very moorish. The finish is a little short and contains traces of aniseed
We then moved onto an old favourite, a lovely little whisky that has been matured in sherry casks, designed appropriately enough to showcase the Bruichladdich style with sherry finishing.
Bruichladdich Sherry Classic [46%]
We were very pleased to try this now discontinued whisky. I love sherry finished whisky and love the interaction of the ‘laddie spirit with the sherry maturation here – worth picking up a bottle while you can, especially if you can get one before Christmas!
Nose: Very sweet and unsurprisingly sherried. The nose is full of red berries and red wine combined with a wisp of smoke
Palate: Very sweet and rich. The palate bursts with toffee, fruit and a touch of peat
Finish: Lingers on the tongue with lots of spice
The Bruichladdich 22 is a whisky we have wanted to try since it hit the shelves so we were excited to see it on the line up. Words don’t really do it justice here – you’ll need to buy your own bottle, but it will be worth it!
Bruichladdich 22 [46%]
The 22 was the standout whisky of the night for many of the attendees. It may have been made in a different era but the quality of the liquid should not be doubted. Outstanding stuff.
Nose: Very floral and fragrant. This whisky is packed full of vanilla and deep citrus notes.
Palate: In a word – wow! This whisky is brilliant – fruity, nutty and still allowing the spirit to shine after 22 years in a Bruichladdich warehouse
Finish: Long and mellow bringing back memories of lying in the sun
After a brief interval with some wonderful smoked applewood cheddar (much like a half time orange) we began the second half. First up was a whisky I’d tried at the Feis Ile and a bottle that I love. The Black Art 2 is currently sitting opened in my cabinet at home so it was really interesting to compare it again with this offering – the Black Art 3.
Bruichladdich Black Art 3 [48.7%]
I tasted this on Islay in warehouse 12 with Jim and simply wrote ‘stunning’. Resisting the temptation to do the same again some very brief thoughts are below. This is just a whisky to be enjoyed. End of.
Nose: Extremely complex. The whisky is full of wine, port and spicy tobacco notes
Palate: Incredibly gentle to begin with but as the smoke rises your mouth is filled with liquorice and aniseed and the world just seems to be a better place!
Finish: Sweet and dark
No Islay tasting would seem quite right without some peat and here was a bottle we’d not tried before – a pet post of Jim’s and it didn’t let us down!
Port Charlotte Peat Project [46%]
A great example of a peaty Islay; this whisky was an experiment to prove Bruichladdich could ‘do’ peat. If you’ve ever doubted their ability then try this whisky – you won’t be disappointed!
Nose: Full of sweet peat and deep smoke which is replaced by aniseed and coalfires the more you nose
Palate: Massive peat explosion. The taste is fiery, full of bonfires and barbecues and also Frazzle crisps
Finish: Long, sweet and meaty
To be honest, we don’t really need to write about the last whisky. It will never be bottled in its current form, very few people are likely to try it, but my word it was good. Turn away now if you like Octomore as you will want to try this spirit!
Octomore 7 (sherry cask sample) [-59%?]
This is how you finish a tasting, provide a cask sample that no-one has ever tasted and one that probably won’t be bottled in its current format. However, I’ve made a note of the cask number so will be having a look out for it when we visit for the Feis Ile!
Nose: Burnt orange, Christmas spice, fruity, spicy
Palate: Fabulous, the smoke comes in leaps and bounds and despite the ridiculousness of the ppm it manages to deliver so much more than a peat furnace. There is evidence of aniseed and fruit, and the sherry stands up well to the peating levels
Finish; Sweet, dark, rich, if only there were seconds!
Many many thanks to David from Nickolls and Perks for inviting us over for the evening and to Andrew for the pre-tasting pint! Of course we’d like to thank Craig for a great evening too (if you ever get the chance to go to one of his tastings – do; they are great fun and very informing too!) and hopefully we’ll bump into you on Islay in May if we don’t see you sooner!