Thanks to /u/Bananavanman for pouring me a sample.
Frazer Matthews is a tour guide at Bruichladdich. To you or me that may seem like a cool summer job, and frankly, most of us at our summer jobs didn’t end up with a bottle pick (or whatever the equivalent is of being a waiter, shelf stacker, or cement maker, in my case).
No Frazer not only worked at Bruichladdich, not only learned the balancing act of touring a distillery between the geeky know-it-alls to people who are new, however, but his entire family also worked there at some point. So he’s been growing up with Bruichladdich fumes in his bones. In the write-up for his release as part of the crew they mentioned that he’s left the island, however, I doubt one ever leaves for long. Because… tons of whisky, right? Sure you can’t easily see a football match on Islay, but I think the bonus outweighs that downside (to me, at least).
So what did the young Matthews pick out and ended up in Bruichladdich Laddie Crew Valinch 30 – Frazer Matthews? Why a 9-year-old Bruichladdich aged in Premier Cru Claret casks. No, I didn’t just sneeze into a speak-to-text app, that’s a wine cask. Premier Cru means First Growth in French and is a designation given to Bordeaux wine.
So a high-end red wine that was aged in ex-French oak. That’s my simple view of it.
But we’ve had whisky from people who’ve had decades of experience. And while young, Frazer wasn’t distilling out of the womb (though he was around a distillery and top end people for a long time, so I don’t want this to seem like I’m putting him down either, I’m just attempting to give a balanced view). So was this a good pic? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: Distillery only, can’t say if they have it still
Stated Age: 9-years-old
Cask Type: Premier Cru Claret
Cask Number 3684
Number of bottles: 358
Colour: 2.5YR 5/10
Nose: Guava, mint, grass, cinnamon, ground beef, gravel, cake icing
Nice tropical note, some spice to round it out. Almost meaty and young and earthy. Not in a rough way, but the spice is quite strong. If you’re not used to younger it could be a bit of a shock.
Water brings out more of a hard sweet note. Again, something to be expected of a younger whisky, though nice once you get used to it. Like a grocery store birthday cake.
Taste: Peach hot sauce, anise, creme anglaise, limoncello, floral, peanut
Fruit and heat are the main things here, though nothing too rough. It’s quite nice, and eventually, the anise and sweeter, more balanced creaminess takes over.
Water brings out more acidity and a surprise floral note. All very interesting, if a bit brash and youthful.
Finish: Nutmeg, red liquorice, cinnamon loaf, molasses, lemon, almond, brisket
Spice, more spice, more sweets, more acidity, more nuttiness, and a bring back to the meatiness. The finish, like many Bruichladdich (good ones at least, I should say), ties it all together. Amps it up. It’s no longer just anise, it’s anise and sugar and strawberry. It’s no longer cinnamon, it’s some yeast.
You get the idea. I hope. Honestly, I’ve been wondering about my own communication ability these days.
Conclusion: Spice forward hot dram. There’s going to be fans, like myself, you enjoy young drams (I said drams you fucks), who’ll enjoy the little aspects of strong, odd flavours. And that works quite well. This is really unique in those ways.
But it’s young. Yeah, that’s a bit of a cop-out, and let me follow that: It works, but after having constant spice over and over, and just having it figure itself out at the end is tough. I enjoyed sipping on this. I really like having a dram of it. And I probably would have grabbed a bottle, just because it’s unique.
Just wish the young Matthews had found it 3 years later, that’s all.
Scotch review #1088, Islay review #293, Whisky review #1694