If you ask us to describe Bruichladdich in one word, it would be: mavericks. They are definitely not afraid to experiment and when it comes to their less experimental whisky’s they don’t necessarily care what others do or say. In short: they do things their own way, and they do it well (most of the time). They’re one of the two Islay distilleries that don’t use peated barley for their house style whisky.
When we arrived at the distillery, we immediately felt this non-conformist atmosphere. Where other Islay distilleries were somewhat traditional, Bruichladdich felt more like a young and vibrant place. Maybe a bit over the top even, let’s say that they know how to practice the art of making whisky, but marketing as well. It suits them and it was great to sit back and relax in their bar/café-like shop to have any dram you like.
We’re a big fan of their Octomore range, being marketed as the most heavily peated of them all. But as you may have read in an earlier review of us, most of the peat is ‘lost’ in the process, that often makes a sip of Port Charlotte (their peated range) more peaty, despite the lower ppm. We can’t blame them, it’s just making use of the ‘flaw’ that ppm is measured from the barley, it doesn’t necessarily say anything about the end product. It’s most likely because of the tall sills that weakens the peat influence.
The standard non-peated range is great as well: no-nonsense, clean and natural. While we definitely describe ourselves as big sherry-heads in the first instance (sweet tooths if you will), these fresh, floral and sweet malty notes are always a welcome change. We told you yesterday that we tried the Port Charlotte and Bruichladdich Valinch. And while we scored the PC a bit higher, Dennis went for the Laddie to bottle by hand. Just because it felt better to return home with a ‘house style’ malt instead of the experimental bottle. And to be honest, after revisiting it again, in the comfort of my own home, it was definitely the right thing to do. The whisky tasted less harsh than it did at the distillery, so that’s great.
Let’s finally look at the tasting notes of the 13yo Bruichladdich Valinch 34, matured in a 2nd fill bourbon cask, dedicated to Rhona MacLean Laddie Shop Assistant. That’s a mouthful!
Classic malty notes, fresh and crisp, fruity and lots of citrus fruits
Sweet barley, very strong and full, sweet biscuits playing the main part here
Sweet maltesers, tropical fruits from the bourbon cask, cookies and cracked pepper
After this session at the distillery, we took some samples with us, which we are going to review soon. Among them are the Octomore Masterclass 8.2 and the Organic Barley 2009. We’ve yet a lot to discover from this distillery, what’s your go-to Laddie?