Sipping a lineup from Islay’s Bruichladdich distillery that features introductions to the Classic, Barley, Port Charlotte, and Octomore expressions

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.

 

Illustrated map of Islay distilleries
Islay is teeming with distilleries (photo credit: Kisspng)

Bruichladdich basics

The first thing that stands out about the Bruichladdich distillery is that it prides itself on having its whole whisky cycle operating on Islay. Growing the barley, mashing and distilling, aging and bottling…it’s all done there. 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. Bruichladdich lineup zeros in on the barley used in its mashbill. Port Charlotte goes for a “heavily peated” designation. 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 and Westland lineups in bottles
The entire lineup from the Westland & Bruichladdich tasting (photo credit: Gordon’s DTX)

Bruichladdich Scotch Tasting

At Gordon’s DTX, December 19, 2018

Bruichladdich Classic Scottish Barley

50%ABV
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Scottish
Keyword: Islay, Scotch, Single Malt, Whisky
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • 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

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2010

50%ABV
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Scottish
Keyword: Islay, Scotch, Single Malt, Whisky
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • 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
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Scottish
Keyword: Bourbon Cask Finish, Peated, Scotch, Single Malt, Whisky, Wine Cask Finish
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • 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

Octomore Masterclass_08.1

59.1%ABV
Phenol level 167ppm
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: Scottish
Keyword: Bourbon Cask Finish, Cask Strength, Islay, Peated, Scotch, Single Malt, Whisky
Author: Tammy Spencer, Scotch & Scones

Tasting Notes

  • 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
Bruichladdich lineup in cans
Homing in on Bruichladdich

 

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!

Tammy

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