Sunday is all about Bruichladdich. We woke up with the sun shining and full of expectation. It was the 12th year in a row that it hasn’t rained on Bruichladdich Day and we were ready to go.
We joined the queue outside the aqua gates, showed our masterclass tickets and went off to buy the Feis Ile bottling – a 20 year old whisky matured in Gaja Barolo casks. It’s got a lovely deep colour and we can’t wait to try it.
Jim’s masterclass was the event we came for and as we we went into warehouse 12 our hopes were high – six whiskies of varying colours were already poured as we sat down amongst the barrels.
There will be a more complete write up later picking out some more detail so for now I’ll just give you a flavour of the event. It really is a show – Jim is a legend full of stories and humour and he was backed by some fine Gaelic singers and the talented Robin Laing. We started with a 2006 Islay Barley 6 Year Old that was full of sweet vanilla and fresh barley. It was zesty to taste and the sweet oaky vanilla was lovely. We moved onto a 1989 22 Year Old whisky that was full of rich wood and spice, reminiscent of a winters fire and a fine example of what great casks can do. An 18 Year Old matured in bourbon and Chateau Yquem followed before we were treated to the new 22 Year Old Black Art. We skipped past the as yet to be released Port Charlote 10 (full review to follow but it was a goosebump moment – smoke, pepper, chocolate, sage, heat, warehouse 12 – wow!). The final treat was a 3 Year Old Octomore matured in virgin oak and we’ll give that the treatment it deserves later – Jim even said after the reaction he got he may release it – start queuing now!
Bruichladdich is about more than whisky though – the courtyard is full of activity, music, banter and life – a real island treat. We bumped into Ben and Cat from Master of Malt which was lovely and also saw half of the Whisky Boys – great fun! (Ben – we’ll be submitting our prize winning photo shortly!)
We paused for a delicious home cooked tea and then set out for the Friends of Laphroaig 18th birthday party. Now I’d love to give you some indepth notes on the night but for the second time this week I’ve lost my notebook so it will just be a flavour of the night.
First up was the festival bottling – sweet, full of apricots and classic Laphroaig taste. It is made up of 50% 7 year old and 50% of the original Cairdeas and at £45 is a steal. We the moved onto a very subtle and very un Laphroaig Highgrove 12 year old before tasting the absolutely sublime double matured and PX finished cask strength Laphroaig at 59.2%. I love peaty sherried whisky and this is up there with the best. Next up was a first fill Olaroso at 60% before ending with a cask strength 18 year old that finished the party well. (If I get my notebook back tomorrow I’ll put some proper notes up).
A slightly unsteady walk home followed and we were safely asleep by 2am. Sunday on Islay rocked and we’ve still got a lot more to come.