If you’re a hobby person (aka someone who’s actually interesting to have discussions with at a party), you can trace aspects of your hobby back to something in your childhood.
In my case my first “hobby” was video games. I am not good at sports. My art skills are something I love but most would characterize as “crafty”. Wait, I meant “crappy”. My writing skills are only as good as they are because I do it so much (some people have argued they are as good as my art skills).
As such I got into video games. While I enjoyed every new game I could rent (“Why buy when you can rent? You beat them too quickly” – My Father), I was addicted to JRPGs, fighting games, and platformers. Thus I played more of those.
So when I got into whisky, the same thing happened. I enjoyed specific whiskies, reviewed them, saw how many I’ve done, and wanted to see them all. And while there are numerous distilleries I enjoy reviewing a metric ton of, none are more omnipresent for me than Bruichladdich.
Which is silly, really. For the original Nintendo Entertainment System (“Ghetto-Ten-Do” if I can borrow a phrase from one of my less compassionate university fellows) you could be into Mario scrollers or Contra style shooters or Metrovania type games and only buy (or rent in my case) 3 or 4 games total. But Bruichladdich is a legion. Heck the legions of Rome would take one look and be amazed and also a bit freaked out that one of their many enemies are now making alcoholic drinks and how did they time travel?
Ignoring the Roman legions (tell that to the GAULS!) I do enjoy the different casks and what could come next from Bruichladdich. I’m hooked. So here are additional Bruichladdich I’ve had in the past few months. Let’s see how they taste, shall we?
I had a rare moment when my cat actually posed, so here’s my best version of a cat picture that happens to have whisky in it. Her name is Kahlua and she’s a princess.
Bruichladdich Faodail 15 2002 Private Cask doesn’t say Bruichladdich. Anywhere. We can only go off the people who bought it, tried it, verified that, probably had someone whisper that to you, etc.etc. I have many “Unnamed” whiskies coming up and for some of them we have better reviewers/blind tasters than myself stating what they are and others don’t.
So we’re going with this being a 15 year old ex-Fresh Sherry Hogshead (first fill? Second? It’s copping-a-feel in the 1930s? What does “fresh” mean?) that’s been released to us.
So we don’t know if it’s peated, we just know there’s sherry and it’s cask strength. That was enough for me when I started sipping whisky, it’ll be enough when the morlocks rip it from my hands after the inevitable fall of North American society.
So let’s see how this tastes, shall we?
Cask Type: Fresh Sherry Hogshead
Cask Number 1266
Number of bottles 228
Colour: 5YR 3/6
Nose: Lemon, cherry, hot cross buns, brine, treacle/Spotted dick
Alright, good amount of fruit, really autumnal, nice amount of custard/caramel notes, some bring, and… oh, look… A severe amount of cinnamon. Just blanketing it all, taking no prisoners.
It mellows after a bit but wow that’s a lot of cinnamon. I think we can say there’s some peat here.
Taste: Cinnamon bread, raisin, cinnamon hearts, currant, grape, mineral, melon
Cinnamon. More cinnamon. It’s me at Valentine’s Day. It’s me when I make cinnamon buns (god I told a friend once to double the cinnamon and screwed up his baking, I gotta pair that back).
There’s other flavours here, and it’s trying to go with the nose on complexity. The cinnamon cuts off the really, really complex notes.
Finish: Cinnamon, plum, mesquite, brown sugar, blueberry muffin, heather
Hot. Yes, there’s floral elements, there’s this interesting smoke, there’s this cake-y/fruit sweet element that I crave because my brain is made for the Serengetti and not being in an open cube space and dealing with fear on the same level as a lion over and over.
Where was I? Oh, yes. It’s complex, but the cinnamon will drag you away and leave you missing some of the subtle elements.
Conclusion: Unfortunately a bit cinnamon heavy, though complex dram. I really, really wanted to enjoy this more.
At a tasting recently I was reviewing a powerful whisky (at the rate I’m going to be reviewed right before the morlocks show up) and it required a full hour of sitting to develop more. I had hoped this was the case here, and while it certainly helped, ain’t nobody got time for that (ancient meme sayings are the future currency).
This should be an easy win for me. Strong sherry notes, probably peated, cask strength, decent age, actually stated? Yeah, we’re good. I don’t care if you call it Ma Islay’s Hooch or use the proper name of a distillery. But this has so much cinnamon it throws you off. Still fun, but not “you’re pouring it for everyone” fun, more “unique kooky fun”.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 10 2008 Whisky Fassle doesn’t have a different name, was picked up for me by a coworker from Germany, and is similarly from a “Fresh” barrel, only this time ex-bourbon.
So less years, more alcohol, could be a different peat level, could even be completely different. Can we compare them? You bet your bottom dollar, and even some of your other bodypart dollars, because that’s what I do. I take things more complex than apples and oranges and compare them.
Because it’s either this or I write essays on which is worse for humanity, cheese or Putin. Feel free to leave your thoughts while I review this.
Cask type Fresh Bourbon Barrel
Cask number 3201
Colour: 7.5Y 9/4
Nose: Goldenrod, lemon cheesecake, lime Jell-O, chocolate muffin, peach pie
Initial sweet cereal note, followed by sweet creamy/acidic note, sweet chocolate notes, and a sweet stone fruit note.
Get the pattern? As someone who’s currently cutting back on sweets for… life reasons and grew up aiming to get diabetes before the morlocks. Now I’m aiming for the morlocks. How things change.
It’s sweet. But not too sweet…. To me, fatty McSyrup blood.
Taste: Lemonade, pumpkin loaf, mint, linen, grasshopper pie
More balanced notes of pumpkin, citrus, some floral/linen notes, and even strong mint/chocolate with time. That said it’s still sweetsville USA here. I don’t even live in the USA and it transports your tongue there. It’s a frightening place.
There’s more developed cereal on the taste versus the nose.
Finish: Anise, grass, gingersnaps, Mexican hot chocolate, grasshopper pie, honey
Now we’re getting more spice and grass. But what’s that? You haven’t quite gotten your sweet fix? No fear, it’s still here!
I’m loving it, by the way.
Conclusion: Do you enjoy all the baked goods that a WASP family made in the 80s? Cause we got it with booze!
Alright, joking aside this shouldn’t work but does due to the complexity. If it was just sweet it’d be ready for the cocktail bar. But it isn’t. It’s minty, with a good amount of spice, and great grassy notes. There’s fun floral moments and it stays consistent. I really, really don’t know why you’d let this out the door and not, I don’t know, release it? Maybe have a staff member pick it? Maybe hire me and I’d have picked it?
Must have been busy that day. Oh well.
Bruichladdich 12 2007 Micro-Provenance Bourbon Cask is a release under the OB line of specific small batches picked and sold online. This one was sold via Kensington Wine Market, so let’s break this down:
First the master distiller picked the barrel, the area, and everything to do with what it’ll become. Then they convinced a store to be the only ones to purchase the whole cask and sell it. The amount of checks and balances is a crazy town.
But will I enjoy it? Will I, the final user, agree with multiple people that worked on this? Or am I full of it? Could I stop asking questions and get to the whisky? Let’s see, shall we?
Thanks to ScotchGuy_TO for the sample.
Price: $135 CAD
Barley Type: Optic
Cask Held Previously: Bourbon American Whiskey
Cask no. 336
Warehouse: WH505, L05
Bottle Number 061
Bottled Exclusively For: Kensington Wine Market
Colour: 5Y 8/6
Nose: Peach syrup, brown sugar, cloves, plum, leather, hazelnut
Strong sweet peach note, some more sugar, and then spices. You know, the same old… Wait.
Is that… leather? Wow. That typically doesn’t pop up unless it’s peated, or it’s an old school style “giving a shit” level of barrel quality. It’ll… turn some heads.
Taste: Jerky, cinnamon, strawberry, pepper, Chai
Immediate spice/meaty notes, some stronger spice keeps on going, and then more, and then there’s more, and now you’re 5 again and lost in the bulk aisle and your Western 80s palette is confused.
Spice heavy is what I’m saying. Some fruit, mostly spice. I hear it must flow (not sponsored).
Finish: Brine, peach, leather/earth, Sandalwood, gingersnaps
Salt, more leather for all you mommy and daddy’s out there, some strong spice notes, and even some butter.
So we’re back to cool town.
Conclusion: If you love spice and leather, you’re in. My guess is this went through after one of the peated versions went through. My issue is that the taste is one note. It does that note really, really well. So does a truck backing up.
The finish and the nose has leather. I’m a sucker for that smell. I have a hard time rating it. Nonetheless this is a very fine Bruichladdich, and worth picking up (if it didn’t sell out in under an hour).
Thanks to Herr_maltenburg for the sample.
Bruichladdich Black Art 7 is something that, a few versions ago, I’d be screaming my want of a bottle from the highest mountains.
So let’s get the biases out of the way for all the people who haven’t meticulously read my previous black art reviews:
- I loved the Proto-Blacker Still through 4.1 (and High Noon) versions.
- I didn’t like 5.1 and 6.1 to the point of stopping myself from buying future versions
- I sniff my own farts and am full of myself
Got all of that? So we have a selection of different malts, from casks we don’t know about, all above a certain age, and that’s it. We aren’t told anything else. Used to be Jimbo, now it’s Al, and that’s all we know.
So how does this taste? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: $350 CAD
Number of bottles: 12,000
Colour: 7.5YR 5/8
Nose: Strawberry, almond, apple, cloves, red licorice, yellow plum
Fruity, very sherry whisky dominant, some interesting fruit, spice, and different levels of tart/acidic notes.
I’m actually impressed. While I would prefer some richer notes or perhaps a bit of difference from sherry, this is coming close to the “loved” batches.
Taste: Cardamom, honeydew melon, toffee, algae, plum
Any thoughts that this was as explosive or complex as previous “gold” (to me) batches falls off. The strong hits of Oloroso standard vibes, some nice sharp caramel, and a good amount of vegetal and some richer fruit.
It’s starting to win me over, though this is a chorus of saminess rather than the crescendo of unique complexity.
Finish: Orange, ginger, cloves, earth, smoke/charcoal, raisin
Good acid, great smoke, and some sherry dominant notes. Again, it’s coming so close. Right now it’s a more muted, sherry balanced whisky. It hasn’t taken on too much sherry notes or gone all brandy like (which some of you love so I don’t judge you).
I think a bit more of your peated cask would have helped differentiate it.
Conclusion: Spicy, rich, getting better as they come out. Should be worth it again by 10.1. I’m kidding, of course. May be at 11.1.
All shade aside, I was happier with this batch than the last two batches. We’re getting a good nose, decent followthrough, and at least a tasty finish. Do I expect more given the price, the pedigree, and everything else? Yes, yes I do. But at least it’s noticeably better.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 15 2004 Whiskybroker is a sherry casked Port Charlotte released independently. A metric ton of bottles came from this batch, as it came from a butt. Heh. Butt.
So you get the spiel by now: It’s an IB, cask strength, other things I write out, and I’m a sucker for them. Big ole sherry work with Port Charlotte this time? Let’s see, shall we?
Cask type Sherry Butt
Cask number 838
Number of bottles 515
Colour: 7.5Y 9/8
Nose: Fresh cut wood, roast fennel, teriyaki, brine, almonds
So up first: You’re not going to notice the sherry up front. You’re noticing Port Charlotte. Yes, there’s some molasses/spice notes that you may consider is sherry, and they are doing a great job with the saltiness going on.
Because this is as salty as a video game nerds underpants.
Taste: Fresh cut wood, cocoa, anise, chocolate milk, chocolate covered almonds
A lot of wood notes, some well developed peat notes, and a good amount of chocolate. Lots of chocolate, I would say. I’m just now realizing that I wrote chocolate so many times. At least I didn’t write about chocolate wood.
Finish: Mussels, walnut, Sprite Ice (mint Sprite), Hickory, prickly pear, lemon zest
Tons of salt, some sharp smoke, good amount of acidity, and even some well flavoured nuttiness. Also the brine is back in charge.
Conclusion: Brine bomb with a chocolate centre. And if that doesn’t make you stand up, you’re not alive. Chocolate and salt is all you need in life.
Tons of well developed brine, good bitter notes, good sweetness, lovely woodiness, and even some acidity to match it all. Complexity, flavourful, and interesting. Peat heads will love it and their bloody enemies the un-Peat feet will love it too, bringing peace to the land.
Thanks to smoked_herring for sharing the dram with me.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 16 Feis Ile 2020 is a special release for Feis Ile in the year we all lost. What we’ve seen over the years is older Port Charlottes are jumped at, but not typically age stated and released by Bruichladdich itself.
As the prices continue to climb on these lovely gems it’s no surprise that Bruichladdich started to release special older versions to the masses. Now that it’s worth it.
So this isn’t a single cask, but it is cask strength and all from the same vintage. Thus it gives us a different view versus the (mostly) single casks. Should we have Al vatting these up?
Let’s see, shall we?
Number of bottles: 3,000
Colour: 2.5Y 8/10
Nose: Anise, manure, nectarine, coconut & chocolate, sawdust
Spice, farmy, fruity… starts out as you expect. Well maybe not the farm note, depends how often you stay in the city and how few farmy drinks you have.
Water opens it up to Bounty Bars in the Wood Shed, and if that doesn’t get you going you may want to be fine, because we don’t all have to love the same things.
Taste: Brine, smoked ham, mangosteen, oak, caramel, dry
Salty, meaty, sweet, oddly tropical, and then some dry oak and caramel. It jumps between complex and simple. The English may call it “moorish” which I’m pretty sure just means “tasty thing I want more of” but then I’ll get comments about what it really means.
Finish: Pear, brine, white hot chocolate with marshmallows, green tea (sweet, herbal, a bit tannic, floral)
Very sweet, tons of interesting complexity here. It jumps between sweet and herbal and is really fun.
Conclusion: Lots of fun chocolate and herbal notes. Very complex at times, and simpler at others. If I was a bitter, bitter person I’d say that the whiskies used were complex and less complex to use up some slow maturing. But I’m not that person (for serious). I’d say there was a drive to blend different levels of complexity (which typically means no age statement or a younger one) without giving that up.
Whatever the reason, it’s a lot of fun. Sweet, salty, woody, and tannic. You’re going to enjoy this. It’s a solid chance to try Port Charlotte at this age, and I hope for older and more of these.
Scotch review #1347-1352, Islay review #371-6, Whisky Network review #2053-58