The Bruichladdich Still Series

Thanks to /u/Whiskyjig and /u/xile_ for the samples.

Hi all, back again with a series that’s not really around anymore.

Back when I wasn’t an experienced amateur and was more of a completely ignorant whisky amateur, I happened in Scotland. And like most people who aren’t reviewing constantly, I didn’t realize that those Golden, Red, and super Black bottles of Bruichladdich were anything special.

Yeah, I’m kinda dim. But I make lots of mistakes, learn from them, and keep going. Thus I succeed.

The “Still” Series is made up of 20+ year whiskies that stick out on a shelf so much even a blind fool can see them.

If it sounds like I’m being hard on myself, I am only because… well I’m annoyed I waited this long to have these. However maybe I wasn’t ready yet. So maybe it’s okay.

Note that these whiskies predate the Black Arts series from coming out. They came out around the same time as DNA 1. And all of the juice used in this whisky is from prior to being mothballed in 1995.

So what ties these together? The experimental spirit of Bruichladdich after reopening in 2001 and cool looking bottles. Really, what do whisky nerds need more of?

Oh, I know: Decent whisky. So let’s see how these taste, shall we?


Bruichladdich Golder Still 3.jpg

Bruichladdich Golder Still is up first. What makes this special? It was aged in special “squat” Hogsheads. And not the kind made by space dwarves.

Oh, a Warhammer 40k joke doesn’t work too well, right? Let’s keep going. Pretend you understood it and are laughing heartilyabout it.

Bruichladdich Golder Still 2.jpg

For a brief period in the 80s, distillers tried out these dumpy casks. And since this is literally the first time I’ve heard of them, ever, I have to assume they are used all the time and I’m blissfully ignorant.

That’s sarcasm, so we’re on the same page.

So let’s see how the Sqauts did, shall we?

Bruichladdich Golder Still 1.jpg

Price: No longer available

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1984

Bottled: 11.2008

Stated Age: 23 years old

Cask Type: Bourbon Squat Hogsheads

Number of Bottles: 4866

Abv: 51%

Colour: 5Y 9/8

Nose: Pear cake, cashew, guava, fresh hay, alfajores

Subtle nose. Takes quite awhile to pick out the different notes. Lots of developed caramel and coconut notes. Well developed cake/fruit notes as well.

That said, it needs time. A little water goes a long way, bringing out a fresh hay note. Complexity is on point.

Taste: Cereal, cinnamon, pear, cilantro salad, French vanilla ice cream

Good mouthfeel. Really good mouthfeel. It’s few and far between on some of these, however this is like having a good milkshake, with all the boys being in the yard and having to charge to learn how to remake it.

Lots of vanilla. Water, again, brings out the complexity, with lots of heat and spice. But good heat and spice. Like having a healthy relationship and a healthy sex life, not like having sex with a jalapeno.

Finish: Bosc pear, ginger ice cream, caramel, hay, pepper steak, funk

Amazing finish. Just bonkers great. Lots of creaminess, lots of spice, and then some funk at the end. Funk man! In a Bruichladdich!

I’m all here, drinking it looking for the norms, and BOOM, funk! I love funk. It is a wonderful surprise.

Conclusion: Very specific flavours, really power flavours, and keeps surprising you. Insane complexity. Really. It has a ice cream level of sweetness. Wonderful vanilla.

If there’s anything I have to dock marks on, it’s the nose and how long it takes to tease out the different flavours. I enjoyed it eventually, however it’s the weak point. It keeps up on complexity.

86/100


Bruichladdich Redder Still 3.jpg

Bruichladdich Redder Still is the second in the series. The idea behind it is 20 years in first-fill bourbon casks and then finished in ex-Bordeaux red wine casks.

So this is one of the first ex-red wine cask whiskies that I’ve seen on the market. Or rather the first I can find on the market. I don’t know, give me a comment if there was one before 2007. That was a crazy year for me. I just graduated. Was still in the “hatachi” years of my life.

Bruichladdich Redder Still 2.jpg

Which is all about experimentation. And this is an experiment. Connections. They happen people.

So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Bruichladdich Redder Still 1.jpg

Price: No longer available

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1984

Bottled: 2007

Stated Age: 22 years old

Cask Type: First-fill ex-bourbon casks, then finished in Château Lafleur casks (Bordeaux red wine)

Number of Bottles: 4080

Abv: 50.4%

Colour: 5YR 5/10

Nose: Strawberry, cran-blueberry wine, mint, grape jelly, wood furniture, pepper

Subtle, like a Baco noir. Is the Still series going to be nothing but subtle noses, like a plastic surgery convention? Stay tuned to see!

Lots of fruit on the nose. Very close to a sherry cask, but not spice, and dryer. Can a nose be dryer? It’s more desiccated maybe? I don’t know, maybe it just smells like desiccated things.

Taste: Cherry, brown sugar, cantaloupe, arugula, coffee

Lots of cherry at first. Reminds me of an Oloroso cask finished whisky. Though there’s more tartness/bitterness to it.

Less complex than the nose. We’ve seen more of that tartness come out, and it seems a little like a breakfast that you spent the least amount of money on. I’m not saying it’s cheap. I’m saying it tastes like that. Because regardless of any success I’ve had, I’m cheap. And I’ve been there and wanted change back from a 10 spot and needed breakfast.

Finish: Mint jelly, thyme, black pepper, molasses, currant, wood, toast

Finish goes in a different direction. Fruit isn’t the main thing. Herbal notes, earth heat. Very different finish. Lots of flavours.

Do I like all of it? No. Water certainly helps and balances it out.

Conclusion: Needs water. A lot. That brings out a lot of the complexity. And it’s needed. This is very mint/herbal focused with summer berry notes. And that’s nice.

I have a hard time explaining this one. I think my score is higher because the finish. And because I think it’s better, regardless of how I feel about those flavours. Or maybe they worked together and I’m levelling with you, it’s good.

84/100


Bruichladdich Blacker Still 3.jpg

Bruichladdich Blacker Still is an odd one. it’s the last of the Still series. However it’s also the proto-Black Arts. First there was Blacker Still.

Blacker Still is a mix of whiskies that were in fresh Oloroso casks. Like Black Arts, they don’t go into details and it’s mysteries. As well it’s “Blacker Still” than a previous release, the Infinity II. Thus the name and all that fun stuff.

Bruichladdich Blacker Still 2.jpg

So like listening to the Ramones from the point of view of someone entering Punk for the first time. It’s nice to see where it came from.

So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?

Bruichladdich Blacker Still 1.jpg

Price: No longer available

Region: Islay

Vintage: 1986

Bottled: 2006

Stated Age: 20 years old

Cask Type: Oloroso Sherry casks

Number of Bottles: 2840

Abv: 50.7%

Colour: 7.5YR 3/6

Nose: Plum, briney rose water, strawberry, birch sap, caramel

Interesting nose. Floral and brine. Not something I’m used to. Given some more time, I’m getting a Black Arts vibe from it. And no, I didn’t know Blacker Still existed before xile_ mentioned it. Which I was wrong about.

I almost feel like this needed a little more time. Or something different to it. It’s not quite getting there.

Taste: Dry apple, oak, strawberry, brine, cashew, anise, basil

Very dry. If I was having these blind, trying to figure out if this was an ex-red wine cask whisky would be tough. More fruity though, and the Oloroso is more evident given time/water

Lots of simple flavours, though I feel like I’m getting the full extant now more than the nose. Which I prefer.

Finish: Black cherry, effervescent, cereal, cashew butter, ginger, brown sugar, hot chocolate

Wow. That finish. Worth waiting for. Almost like it was holding back, and then clinched it, like an underdog sports movie from the 80s. Go Jets! You ragtag bunch! I bet the main character will get the girl who was with a different guy who was a jerk throughout the whisky.

Lots of brown sugar notes, and water brings out even more chocolate/sugar notes. And nuttiness. And a wonderful pop in the mouth. Cause he told you he loved you.

Conclusion: Proto Black Arts. Pure and simple. It’s not quite as good as the ones that would proceed it, but it is very interesting to see where they started. I’m assuming they used more ex-bourbon casks, or different sherry, or just more work on it. I mean, you do more, you get better.

That said, this finish is very, very good. Bonkers great. All of the flavours work well and grow with each other and add something. It’s like a good party. This has all the right elements. Rogue, Wizard, Fighter, and Cleric, full build, right here.

85/100

Scotch reviews #756-758, Islay reviews #179-181, Whisky Network reviews #1250-1252

1001 Whiskies You Must Taste Before You Die review #348-350

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