Islay…dense with distilleries
Islay is a small island off the south-west coast of Scotland, only 25 miles across, yet it boasts eight whisky distilleries. Of those eight, I’ve tried and reviewed six: Ardbeg, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila, Kilchoman, and Laphroaig (which is where I started my tasting journey). That leaves Lagavulin (which I’ve tried but haven’t formally reviewed), and Bruichladdich…and that’s about to change. The Bruichladdich distillery boasts its namesake range, as well as the Port Charlotte and Octomore lineups, and all three have their distinctive characteristics.
The first thing that stands out about the Bruichladdich distillery is that it prides itself on having its whole whisky cycle operating on Islay, from growing the barley, to mashing and distilling, to aging and bottling. Other distilleries do the same (Kilchoman comes to mind), but the way that Bruichladdich emphasizes the terrior of its whisky hammers home the importance being on Islay means to them…it gives their expressions a unique flavor profile. Bruichladdich also distinguishes its lines between its peated and unpeated products. While the Bruichladdich lineup zeros in on the barley used in its mashbill, Port Charlotte goes for a “heavily peated” designation, and Octomore is just a peat monster. Taken together, these samples of each lineup that I tried below are just an introduction into a wider array of offerings.[Side note: I tried this lineup at a Whisky Wednesday alongside the range of Westland American whisky. Since I’ve already review those here and here, I’m just going to focus on the Bruichladdich distillery. Hope you don’t mind!]
Bruichladdich Scotch Tasting
At Gordon’s DTX, December 19, 2018
- Nose: barley, light ocean breezes, moss
- Taste: soft entry, cereal, oatmeal, light brown sugar,
- Finish: fades to baking spices and light brown sugar
- Comments: very clean and pure, lots of grains and an easy sweetness
- Nose: sharper, butterscotch, straw, lightly sea breezes
- Taste: easy entry, rises to moss with butterscotch
- Finish: fades to an ocean breeze and light brown sugar
- Comments: very approachable and flavorful…I like the layers between the sweet and salty
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10yr
50%ABV, finished in first & 2nd full bourbon, then red wine casks, Phenol level 40ppm
- Nose: ocean bonfire smoke, cereal, vanilla
- Taste: smoke first, then vanilla, oatmeal, light cooked fruit
- Finish: the cooked fruit and smoke lingers
- Comments: the smoke doesn’t overpower the other flavors of grains and cooked fruit, very well balanced
59.1%ABV, Phenol level 167ppm
- Nose: starts mossy, minty, strong alcohol
- Taste: rising smoke, ocean air, vanilla fudge in the background
- Finish: light ashiness lasts
- Comments: the smoke overwhelms, but other flavors emerge after a sip or two
These expressions from the Bruichladdich distillery definitely left me wanting more. Hopefully I’ll be able to attend a tasting that delves deeper into each range…I especially would like to try more of the Port Charlotte lineup, but I’ll not say no to any tasting opportunities (hint, hint).
Here’s wishing you all, Dear Readers, a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year filled with good drams sipped with good friends!
Slainté! L’chaim! Cheers!