Dram Review: Bruichladdich Black Art 3

I got this sample as part of a swap with my friend Adrian Barnett. Can’t remember exactly what I sent him in return, but I hope he enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed this baby from one of my favourite distilleries.

I first heard about Black Art on the whiskycast podcast. Back when Mark did his Feis Ile series, he famously had a lot of Black art 1 and ended up playing a 4am game of crochet by car headlight. If you havn’t listend to that series, go back and do it. Inspired me to go to Islay the next year.

I tasted black art 2 at the distillery (1 of 8 drams there, so no notes,) but I gave this one due care and attention. Here are the dramstats:

laddieblackart3

  • ABV 48.7%
  • Price ~£100 (if you can find it)
  • Age 22 years

Nose: Raisins, oloroso, treacle crumble, dates. Reminds me of sticky warm date pudding soaked in oloroso. Chocolate (the kind you get in the filling of lindor) comes through. Nom.

Palate: Cola cubes and cough mixture with oloroso. Very thick, cola syrup almost.

Finish: Cough syrup and cola.

Verdict: It’s not as fruity on the palate as the nose promises, but it is lovely all the same. If you bought it, you would enjoy a lovely whisky. It’s not special enough for £100 of my money though. You could buy 3 Bruichladdichs for that 🙂

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Dram Review: Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2006 (Dunlossit Farm)

I tasted this whisky as part of a twitter tasting, but I have to say I’d been tempted to buy a bottle before then. I’ve reviewed a few Bruichladdichs on dramstats (find them here), and I havn’t had a bad word to say about them.

The organic has been one of my favourite “after work” drams over the winter, and 100% Islay barely is almost the next step in this exploring the provenance of the whisky and I want to know what the difference is.

I’ve read whisky articles and heard tour guides at other distilleries say that the Barley type makes no difference and there was a lot of hoodoo surrounding “organic” whisky etc. My personal experience from Benromach and Bruichladdich is that organic barely does add a similar note to the whisky and a certain freshness. I was quite surprised as these distilleries are pretty different, but the similarities were definitely there.

So what does having all of the barely from Dunlossit farm on Islay add? Here are the dramstats:

laddieIslayBarley

 

  • Price £35 from drinksupermarket.com
  • ABV 50%

Nose: There is a real barley fingerprint on this. It’s like Bruichladdich Organic+. Funny that, I remember saying that the organic was like the laddie ten on speed. Well this is up another notch! Green apple, crumble note, clotted cream, custard creams, cherry bakewell tart.

Palate: Fruity entry, loads of nutrigrain cereal bar (cherry flavour, then apple). Almond crumble topping and cream.

Finish: Lots of pepper takes over the early palate notes as this one almost crackles on the way down. Long finish with a fainty creamy note and a touch of vanilla.

Verdict: This is even better than the organic, which I love. I will be picking up a bottle of this. Good price, decent ABV, great nose and taste. Laddie do it again!

 

Bruichladdich `The Organic’

Back when I visited Bruichladdich they were distilling and bottling a new product I had not seen. ‘Organic’ whisky. I was immediately skeptical.

This is certainly a sweeping generalisation, but, to me, ‘organic’ is often an alternative label for ‘expensive’. There are exceptions to this, of course, but for most products I buy, whether it is ‘organic’ or not, is pretty unimportant and often makes little difference. When it comes to whisky, I was skeptical as to whether the organic nature of the distillate would change anything at all. Was this just a gimmick? I had to find out.

Here are the dramstats:

organic

  • ABV 46%
  • Non coloured
  • Non-chill filtered
  • Price £34.40

Nose: The laddie character hits you in the face harder than any laddie I’ve tried before. I have described this previously as ‘balloons dipped in natural yogurt’. There is a cereal note that is like the creamy grain topping a nice crumble. Faint hint of green rhubarb goes nicely with the crumble. There are similar notes in the laddie ten but these are really ramped up here.

Palate: The rhubarb crumble and cream really comes through on the palate. No need for further descriptors here: Green rhubarb, crumble, cream, nicely integrated.

Finish: Long with a creamy mouthfeel, almost `clarty’ (Yorkshire word) like double cream on crumble.

Verdict: Not sure this whisky is for everyone but I love it! Very different, interesting, delicious, well priced, and with a craft presentation. The lads from the laddie have done it again! This is one organic product I’ll be seeking out in the future.

 

Port Charlotte `Prediction’

Back in February 2012, Mrs dramstats and I took a pilgrimage to the holy land. Round the peninsula to Kennacraig and then on the ferry to the magical island of ISLAY!

As part of this trip we toured Bruichladdich distillery. What a fantastic tour! I recommend anyone visiting Islay must journey on the road around Loch Indall from Bowmore and pay a visit to Bruichalddich.

They employ so many people, and this strikes you immediately. Even though we were the only one booked on the tour, the car park was full! Most of the machinery in there is old. Really old. Some of it original. It is fascinating to watch whisky made “the old fashioned way” so to speak with so many things done by hand. We actually met a few workers on our tour, and they were happy to stop and chat with us, they let us taste the wash (:) ) and generally gave the impression of a friendly and fun place to work.

Some of the features of this tour will appear in future reviews of Laddie products. One of my favourites was the bottling hall. A first bottling hall tour for me!

Onto the post tour tasting. There, waiting for us, was a dram each of the Laddie ten. I explained I had a bottle of this, (the review is here). The tour guide, offered us a few more drams…

I got to try PC9, The Organic, Chardonnay finish (boy I wish I could have afforded that baby), Dark art II, and the latest (in Feb12) Octomore. I was tempted by the port charlotte when I was handed another sample (bear in mind it’s 11.30am), this was for the current “Valinch”.

The “Valinch” series is a bottle your own from the cask series, like the Aberlour I reviewed a couple of days ago. This one, Jim Mcewan had called “Port Charlotte Prediction” and was supposed to be a precursor to PC10. He took 9 year old Port Charlotte and finished it for 6 months in a Chateau la tour cask. This was supposed to be a prediction for what PC10 would taste like. I tasted, I bought! Here are the dramstats:

  • ABV 63.5%
  • 9.5 years
  • Finish: Chateaux la tour for 6 months

Nose: Sweet BBQ sauce, fruity, lots of smoke. Underneath that classic balloons dipped in natural yogurt `Bruichladdich note’. There is also a vegetal, almost like unmalted barley, note. With water, cured meat (think pancetta) comes to the fore with raspberry jam in the background. Excellent.

Palate: Smokey brown sauce/BBQ blend, chilli, brown sugar. This needs water! Water added brings red grape, raspberry bakewell, almond, honey glazed ham, bacon and maple syrup (like served at breakfast in the states).

Finish: Long smoked paprika, smokey bacon in maple syrup.

Verdict: Epic! If this is the prediction, sign me up for 2 bottles of PC10 immediately. If the PC10 lives up to this prediction, Port charlotte will be the new dramstats favourite Islay!

Dram review: Bruichladdich, The Laddie Ten

Time for my first dram review, and I thought long and hard about what to choose. In the end, I wanted a positive review from a great distillery at a good price, and so I chose Bruichladdich and their new entry level malt, “The Laddie Ten”.

Bruichladdich is one of my favourite distilleries, and Mrs Dramstats and I had a great tour there Feb 2012 (a separate post will appear about that at some point). I bought the Laddie Ten before our Islay trip. Inspired by the story of Bruichladdich and having willed them to make it to 10 years, I had to support them and get a bottle as soon as it came out. What I like about Bruichladdich is the way they employ lots of people on the island and the way they defy the industry by stating that no colouring has been added (more on this in future posts). They also make pretty good whisky.

As you can see from the picture, I’ve had quite a lot of this bottle, so I’m very familiar with it. Before giving my notes, it is worth a comment on the take over and a nod to their departed chairman, Mark Reynier. Bruichladdich were recently taken over by French company Remy and Mark has left the company. He did an amazing job resurrecting this distillery and fans like me are waiting and hoping that Remy continue in the traditions that he has started. I.e. as a major employer on Islay and as a distillery that continues to bottle at 46%, without chill filtration and without caramel, and continues to say so on the bottle!

Anyway, without further ado, here are the dramstats:

Bruichladdich: The Laddie Ten.

  • Age: 10
  • ABV 46%
  • Price £31.67

Nose: Vanilla, raspberry jam, cherry bakewell, blackcurrent, bramble crumble and custard, ‘that Bruichladdich note’ of sea spray and balloons dipped in natural yogurt. Water develops the crumble and dark fruit notes.

Palate: Where is the fruit from the nose? Werthers original butterscotch, sweet barley and an alcohol burn. Water brings more barley and reduces the burn. The crumble note from the nose creeps in, but there is no fruit!

Finish: Drying oak and long for an entry level bottling. Water brings out vanilla and cream with a hint of the fruit from the nose before drying oak.

Verdict: For the entry to the range it is very complex, particularly on the nose. Lots of fruit and interesting notes to find. The palate seems not to match the nose, but this only adds to the intrigue. The finish is long for a 10 year old. At the price it is a great dram. Not an easy one, but well worthwhile. I would buy this again, and at this price, without hesitation!