I’m a big fan of Bruichladdich. A thorough range of releases from esoteric single casks and highly processed Octomores, to lakes of affordable NAS whisky. Purposeful, high quality, consistently interesting, and always something new going on.
Here’s the two new travel retail releases, plus a couple of Valinches. The Valinches are casks that rotate in the distillery shop as hand bottlings, I’ve had quite a few of these and there’s a few duff notes in there but some are truly sublime, such as the Valinch 08 (Chrissie Angus, a 22 year old Bruichladdich in bourbon cask and Spanish oak) and the PC Valinch (Cuan Ard) below.
The Laddie Eight, 50%, A⊕
New for travel retail, bearing an eight years age statement, that kind of confidence usually implies good things are coming.
Nose - Flinty, hard candy - super sweet and austere. Menthol tobacco and cappuccino on inhale, chalk on exhale. Waxy lipsalve and sun-bleached milk chocolate backs it up. There's a wine in here too - I'm tempted to say there's ghostly third fill PX and some white wine cask going on? Young but satisfying, and very Islay. Great cask complexity with water.
Body - Big and sweet, musky wood and slightly peated. It's bordering on fruity but more apple pips than the apple in the end. Water brings out sweet toffee and doesn't leave any holes in the midrange.
Finish - Quite long, winey, lots of rolling tobacco and very sweet and bitter. And therefore very moreish.
This is a superb whisky - it's not pretending to be old but it's so confident and balanced.
The Laddie Valinch 17, Kate Hannet, 25 years old, 48.2% A⊕
Cask no.006 - 1990, sherry hogshead
Nose - It's soft, gently sweet, warm and slightly musky with a touch of the coastal to it. Woody herbs and a little stainless steel back up the classic Laddie character. It's restrained though, quite delicate, and nicely matured - I always love that waxy orchard and wood notes that remind me of when I was first getting into Scotch whisky. With water, much more berried.
Body - Spicy and toasted, ripe and honeyed with a lovely wood/sour/structural edge that is a little more confident than the nose. There's a white wine edge here too. Very good.
Finish - Medium but with sudden fruit and wax. Then stewed tea and fountain pen ink.
Seriously classy this one, quite polite but lovely stuff.
Port Charlotte 2007 CC:01, 57.8% A+
Travel retail, full term in French oak, previously eau de vie from Cognac.
Nose - Young PC. Confident, sour plum, moderate cereal and zesty (lemon and orange). Marlboro light tobacco and window putty. Fresh and enticing, with lots of carpentry going on. Sechuan peppercorns with water, dirtier peat.
Body - There must be virgin oak casks in here. Bright, blonde oak, more tobacco, sour and numbing peat, lemon juice. Much better with water - the integration takes a massive leap forward.
Finish - Lemon most of the way down, zest and curd. Numbing wood at the end, sour tannins in the back of the tongue and liquorice imps.
Port Charlotte is so challenging, much more so, in some ways, than Octomore. This doesn't disappoint, but I prefer the Islay Barley.
Port Charlotte Valinch, Cask Exploration 06, Cuan Árd, 10 years old, 58.6% A⊕+
Grenache Blanc cask.
Body - But the delivery is intensely sweet but dusty, just like a gobstopper. This is sherry bomb transformed into something bizarre, just like 30+ years in cask transforms Islay peat into something alien. I've just realised how incredible Octomore 17.5 could be in Grenache Blanc…. Give me a minute….
Finish - Love hearts all the way to the end and a little parma violet. Very, very long. Remarkable for 10.
A seriously sexy and, frankly, epic single cask of joy. I believe this is still for sale at the distillery. Run, don't walk….