Bruichladdich 19 1989 – Black Art

Bruichladdich Black Art 1 2.jpg

Thanks to /u/Whiskyjig for the sample.

Originally my plan for my 750th whisky, and the end of my plan for celebrating hitting that milestone.

Hey, ever hear of this small company, Bruichladdich? They’ve brought out a couple whiskes over the years. A few of them pop up every so often. They have some winners. I see them growing as time goes on.

I am, of course, being silly here. We all know about Bruichladdich. Given the amount of reviews I’ve done on them lately, it’s quite nice to have a non-peated offering.

Bruichladdich 19 1989 – Black Art is now discontinued, however that didn’t stop me from trying to hunt it down. The story of the Black Art line is is continued after Bruichladdich Blacker Still, which was the third and last of the “Still” threesome, a group of 20+ year whiskies in really kick ass looking bottles (reviews to come).

Bruichladdich Black Art 1 3.jpg

You’ll also note this isn’t actually called “Black Arts 1”. From what I’ve read, it may have been thought of as a one off. It was the first ever 19 year old Bruichladdich (not to say there weren’t older ones, this just was the first that had an age statement of 19).

The casks used? Ex-bourbon and a “medley of wine casks”. Because if there aren’t wine casks, is it really a Bruichladdich? Take some time with that one. It’ll help you meditate. And finally, all of the casks were matured in the “stygian darkness of Warehouse No. 12”, which is where they keep their entrance to the upside down and Barb helps take care of the casks.

Let’s get to the whisky, shall we?

Bruichladdich Black Art 1 1.jpg

Price: No longer available

Region: Islay

Age: 19 years

Vintage: 1989

Bottled: 2009

Number of Bottles: 6000

Abv: 51.1%

Colour: 5YR 6/12

Nose: Butter tea biscuits, freshly cut wood, orange Madeleine, molasses, strawberry basil jam

Initial buttery, dry note. Lots of wood on the nose, with lots of orange and cereal notes. This is a complex nose. Lots of different flavours here, but they come together nicely.

I think I prefer 19 year olds. Don’t take it that way. I mean whisky. You perverts.

Lots of baked goods, lots of fruit. Water brings out more jammy notes. The wood is quite nice here. Really is fresh. Reminds me of cutting wood that hasn’t dried out and can’t be used for firewood yet.

Taste: Anise, black pepper, basil, raspberry jam, mojito, grape, cinnamon

Spicy. I’m so used to whisky not living up to the nose, or being disjoint. This not so much. Spice, spice, and more spice opens into the jam from the taste, mint/citrus/rum from the nose, and balances out with those grape notes that I’d be annoyed if they weren’t there.

Comparing this to other Black Arts is interesting. The second edition had a ton of simple flavours. The third had more complexity. The fourth tried for more, and didn’t do as well. We don’t speak of the fifth, and High Noon was closer to the second edition.

In the first edition we have crafted, complex notes (mojito, jam) mixed with simple notes. Almost like three plus two now equals one.

Take that mathematicians!

Finish: Mint, smoke, raspberry, beef Wellington, dust, gingersnaps, cola

Interesting, long finish. Not as long as some of the other Black Arts, however it has this interesting earth, more sweet fruit elements. Kinda musty here, with the spices now tied into the cereal for quite a bit.

Conclusion: So there’s one majestic dram. I can see why this caught on. It takes the best sides of ex-bourbon casks and the uniqueness of ex-wine casks together. Is it the best of the Black Arts? No, it’s the second best one. The second edition is pure gold.

That’s not to say this is a bad dram. Personally it’s quite tasty. And it’s like the rough draft for 4 of the Black Arts to come. We end up seeing what they could do with wine casks, what flavours worked, and where they went. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. We all make mistakes.

This is a spicey, buttery, taste explosion. There’s just so much complexity I couldn’t not love it. Try if you can.


Scotch review #751, Islay review #178, Whisky Network review #1240

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