I have an odd relationship with the Bruichladdich Black Arts line.
Not odd like I’m secretly in love with the bottle design (though I do love my goth ascetics) or odd that I’m going to make a joke about somehow using it as a fleshlight. Google that. At work. In front of your boss. It’ll be funny.
No, from the first time I saw this release, I was interested in it. You can’t see the whisky. The scores for some of the initial releases were legendary. The idea of getting it in my part of Canada was laughable.
Then the third release came out, and there was talk about how it went in a new direction. The first and second had been so many different flavours hitting you at once. The third was more complex and less chaotic. It had it’s lovers and haters. The fourth edition popped up, and continued the idea of the third, much to the chagrin of some hardcore fans.
There was a Feis Ile release to calm them down. Because an exclusive that’s only sold for a month in a half bottle and then auctioned off at triple the price is how to calm down whisky fans (NOTE: I’m being sarcastic here).
So we end up with a new bottling of Black Arts. What makes Bruichladdich Black Art 5.1different? It’s the first one not made by Jim McEwan. The story goes that Bruichladdich’s current Head Distiller, Adam Hennett was handed the final recipe by Jim McEwan, who was retiring. Adam Hennett decided to go his own way.
And while I don’t think Mr. Hennett phrased it well, I agree with his decision to make a Black Art his way. He is, in fact, the new Head Distiller, and needs to make his own way, his own mistakes, etc.
So let’s see what the most recent version of Black Arts brings to the table, shall we?
Price: N/A at the LCBO
Age: 24 years old
Colour: 10YR 6/10
Nose: Peach pie, raspberry, Gran Marnier, mushroom, artificial green apple
Initial nose is nothing but peach pie. Lots and lots of peaches, butter, and spices. I’ll say it’s quite hard to get past it.
It’s odd having a complex note being dominant and unbalanced towards it. Eventually there’s some acidic sweet notes and earth. Not much beyond that.
Taste: Currant, grape, sulphur, raisin, brown sugar, lemon
No complexity here. At first I thought it was going the 1/2/High Noon route of multiple flavours. However it doesn’t really deliver anything interesting.
There’s some raisin and brown sugar that’s nice, but… meh? I’m looking for something.
Finish: Cranberry, peach, carrot juice, ginger, caramel
Short finish. A Black Arts with a short, mostly earth and sweet forward finish.
You can’t see my forehead right now, but that vein that pops out when I’m disappointed and mildly angry is twitching.
Conclusion: It’s worse then the 4, and 4 was a let down. Take a moment to let that sink in. Prior to this release, the “worst” was one that was just “great”. All others had been amazing (and I’ve now reviewed all of them, 1 to come eventually).
A really nice nose and then a standard, okay dram. Is it better than some things out there? Yeah, of course. There’s some quality here. However… nothing that evokes the past quality.
If I review this in a bubble where other Black Arts don’t exist, then I’d say it’s an alright dram that was in some weak casks. If I then take a step closer on that, I’d say that it needed another few whiskies added in with more cojones.
An okay dram with a name that shouldn’t allow an okay dram. It’s a hard pass for me, and I’m glad I only bought half a bottle.
Scotch review #732, Islay review #168, Whisky Network review #1215