I typically drink single malts. It’s not that I don’t like blends: You can find many blends, both of Scotch and not Scotch, that I’ve reviewed, enjoyed, etc. It’s just that the majority of blends are NAS, usually lower abv., and use more single grain to cut costs.
Also this isn’t a true “blend”, as all malts were made at a single distillery, so it’s a single malt but also a blend… I’m confused too, gonna treat it like a blend while understanding it isn’t a blend.
Now we know that not every distillery has access to single grain. Or releases things that are low abv, or always are NAS: Yes, I’m thinking of Bruichladdich. They have three single malts, no single grain (unless they made a new whisky) they personally make, and while I’m not totally sold on the current distiller and everything they’ve ever brought out, they do have a history of avoiding too many low end releases (knock on wood).
Enter Bruichladdich The Ternary Project, the second Bruichladdich blended malt I’ve been able to find. Simply enough you have a mixture of Port Charlotte, Octomore, and Bruichladdich (unpeated) malts, all from a list of casks so long that if it wasn’t from Bruichladdich, you’d assume it was from Arran.
All of this is blended at a high strength with most details. Sure, it’s not age stated, which isn’t optimal, but 2 out of 3 is pretty good as things slowly burn around us.
Did it work? Let’s see, shall we?
Price: £400 and up (Originally £275)
Components: 30% Bruichladich from 2nd fill ex-bourbon hogsheads that were re-casked into French red wine casks, then PX sherry Butts from Fernando De Castilla, 40% Port Charlotte from 1st fill bourbon barrels, 1st fill Oloroso sherry casks, and 1st fill Virgin Casks, 30% Octomore 2008 from Sauternes, French Mourvedres, Austrian Sweet Wines, ex-Amarone casks, and ex-Bourbon casks.
Number of bottles: 4,000
Colour: 5YR 5/8
Nose: Molasses, currant, brine, roasted peanuts, grassy
As someone who honestly believes if you aren’t using brown sugar in baking, then something is very wrong (some exceptions are allowed), this has a nice nose. Fruity, salty, sweet/sulfuric, and a good amount of roast notes.
But blends are known for nice noses that they let pay the cheque for the rest, so let’s keep going.
Taste: Red licorice, almond, smoked salt, raisin oatmeal cookies, smoke
Fruity spice, still nutty, even more salt and smoke, and then eventually it gets really fruity and sweet. At first you get distinct flavours, but with water/time you get fruity/cereal/sweet notes.
So suffice to say, it’s not just the nose. Really interesting, but you have to like smoke, as eventually that’s one of the main elements. Which shouldn’t be a surprise, given the amount of both Port Charlotte and Octomore, but if I don’t state the obvious then someone would buy this and be surprised and then complain.
Finish: Red grape, craisins, smoke, mineral, butter
Fruity, still smokey, and less complex. The finish boils down what the rest has been doing very well: Balance. Sure, they are using smoke, and there is a decent bit of smoke, but it never feels like that’s gone “Totally Putin” on the whisky.
Simpler though, which is a bit sad. I’m guessing, based on the lack of age statements, this is due to leaning on simpler whiskies best used in blends rather than multiple older whiskies.
Conclusion: Good balance, but you gotta love smoke to enjoy this, as there’s a smoke backbone that will make you… slide? What the fuck was that? Was I trying to quote a song? Fuck’s sake.
Look, this is a very nice whisky to sip on. I could see many a whisky geek and whisky not-geek owning this and pouring it for fun. It’s the best we can hope for in blending: Balanced, not just all nose, a high abv., interesting, and tasty.
Have I had better blends? Yes, for similar costs. But those are fewer each year. So I’m glad someone is still making something that isn’t leaning on cheap grain that stretches my need to stay positive.
Scotch review #1568, Islay review #405, Whisky Network review #2292