Thanks to /u/whisky_lads for this sample.
A few years ago, I asked whisky_lads for a swap. I was looking for a specific GlenDronach single cask.
Jumping ahead, one of whisky_lads last posts before he gave up whisky/was kidnapped by Iran/stopped going on reddit/lit a poison candle/became a super secret scientist, he posted this dram and an apology, as he was finishing his PhD and had forgotten about our trade.
Then the whisky went out, he promptly disappeared to what I can only assume is whatever is better than whisky (piles of genitalia of his choice) and I eventually received the package.
I didn’t really know what Bruichladdich Laddie Crew Valinch 04 – Grant MacLellan was until I took a moment to look it up.
Turns out that if you go to Bruichladdich, they have distillery exclusives. Hopefully this catches on to others (end sarcasm).
The Valinch series are hand filled bottles. They are taken out of the barrels with some sort of tool that has a name I can’t remember. This particular series is named after a different person on the crew.
Grant MacLellan is the warehouse keeper at Bruichladdich. Personally I love that the warehouses need a keeper. Someone to brush their boards and scratch their barrels.
I… don’t really know what a warehouse keeper is. According to the webcams, I may see Grant moving barrels. I assume he’s a logistics person who ensures that rotations happen and casks are delivered and not put into my car.
Like they should be.
Okay, so it’s an interesting option from the millions that have released. And this one didn’t make it beyond the steps of the gift shop. Let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Price: € 199.00 for a 500ml, sold only at the distillery.
Cask Number: R08/101
Cask Types: Ex-bourbon / Premium French Oak Casks
Colour: 2.5YR 5/10
Nose: The smell of cola after you’ve put a Twizzler in it to use as a straw, burnt cedar, caramel chocolate cake, cinnamon walnut cake, cherry loaf, lemon cookies, almond biscotti
It’s an odd nose. Cake forward, if that’s a thing. Sugar laden maybe even, but with balanced acid notes, nutty elements, and overall not too sweet.
To me at least. I have a sweets tooth that rivals many children. Mostly because I bite them.
That went in an odd direction. Let’s conclude by stating I don’t bite children, and this is a very, very complex nose.
Taste: Almond cream, salt/anchovy, strawberry wine, plum, creme brulee, rum cake
Alright, I can’t just write odd. But this is odd.
I mean, on the one hand, it has a very sprite-y taste, with lighter notes of the nose. Then it has these rich parts that seem to be divorced from the lighter ones, and the kids are not having a good time, if you get my meaning.
But there’s also this big brine element that blends with the rich part like a step parent.
Finish: Caramel, blast of dry pear, yeast, watermelon sorbet, lemon loaf batter, fennel grape salad, leather, dried fruit, alcohol
Long finish. Very long. High quality dram long.
The first couple of sips this just has caramel. However almost as if made by chemists who are also artists, it opens up on the third sip with a ton of wine flavours, spice, and a big dried fruit note.
Give this a few sips before judging the finish. Like people.
Conclusion: This is one of the most interesting Bruichladdich I’ve ever had, barring Black Arts. This acts differently than them, but beats most of them out.
The entire dram has random, almost disjoint notes that you get one at a time. Normally a brine/anchovy note in the midst of sweets would make me dock some marks, however here it’s independent enough to be okay. Not great, but okay.
The nose is hard to pin down, but complex. The finish is long, and has a great surprise.
Honestly wish the light notes weren’t in this one, or better integrated. I think that’s why I’m not rating as high as I could. I like it, and I could see myself easily drinking and enjoying this. However when I get up to the score we’re at, tiny issues will have me dock marks.
Nonetheless, I’d consider buying one from the Valinch series after trying this one. It’s a lot of fun.
Scotch review #583, Islay review #130, Whisky Network review #974