Tag Archive: Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte: OLC: 01 – 2010 (Scotland Islay Single Malt Whisky: 55.1% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold, with a mix of slow puckering and a few fast streaks coming from the spirit.

Nose: Milk chocolate. Medicinal. Hints of black forest gateaux. Pencil shavings. Dry peat smoke. Menthol to mint. Peppercorns. Gin. Water adds so much more peat smoke. Dry white wine. Spiced cherries. Moss.

Body: Strong alcohol. Chocolate cake. Dry peat. Tart green and red grapes. Water adds sweet red grapes and spicy red grapes. Paprika. Black cherry. Tons of peat. More water adds hints of raspberry yogurt hard chunks. Strawberry crème.

Finish: Dry. Dried beef slices. Smoke. Bitter cocoa. Water adds more beef to well done beef steak character. Sweet chilli. Caramel. Strawberry yogurt touch. Peppercorns.

Conclusion: So, cards on the table, this is amazing. Ok, now with that said, let’s be harsh about this whisky first.

Deep breath. While this is good neat, unsurprisingly at over 50% abv, it is a tad burning. It means that neat it is predominantly a more medicinal, harsh and dry peat kind of thing. Punchy, but not showing any more than hints of the range that you would expect this to have based on its oak journey.

Yes, that mild criticism was me trying to be harsh to this. Did I mention I adore it?

A little water smooths it out, which somehow makes the peat much bigger, more booming and less dry. Hey, as a peat fan I am not complaining. It also managed to let a lot of the subtleties from the varied ageing come out to play, and this is where things get fun.

The chocolate, almost black-forest gateaux like, character hinted at when it was neat, now is rich, dark backing for the peat. The medicinal character from the alcohol is gone, leaving a still quite dry body but now giving a real mix of sweet cake, heavy peat and smoke and dried meat that is gorgeous.

It is dark, heavy, peaty but no longer harsh. It shows its Islay character but in far smoother ways than, say, Ardbeg or Laphroaig would do, but without compromising on the smokey character.

If you add more water then it breaks the dry character, making for an oily sheen and a mossy, Island style wet rocks character. During this time more and more grapes both red and white, sour, sweet and spiced all come out. So much now showing from its many barrel ageing influence.

So, peat laden, dark and heavy, but everything else can be from sweet gateaux or wine styled to moss and oily depending on the level of water play. Though at each level the other elements are hinted at, and giving fainter backing notes. There is so much to examine here.

With just enough water this becomes the perfect match of dessert and Islay, with so many other takes available with other amounts of water.

Come get it.

Background: Been meaning to grab a Port Charlotte bottle for a while. It is the heavily peated take on the normally unpeated Bruichladdich. Not to be confused with the very, very heavily peated take that is Octomore. I’ve tried a bunch of Port Charlotte expressions over the years, but never bought a bottle. Until now. So now I have, from the ever reliable Independent Spirit. A lot going on with this one, from the bottle it is part of the “Cask Exploration Series” and has been aged in a mix of Bourbon, Vin Doux Naturel and Syrah casks then moved for the last 18 months to oloroso casks. I cannot find what OLC means from a quick google, if you know, please let me know. Wanted big booming dark music for this, so went with Anathema: The Silent Enigma.

Elements Of Islay: Pi 6 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky:7 Year: 55.3% ABV)

Visual: Very light, clear gold. Slow thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Sooty peat. Charred oak. Clean. Beef slices. Water makes smoother.

Body: Honey. Thick. Oily. Soot. Malt chocolate. Chilli seeds. Water adds beef slices. Ginger and more chilli seed. Buttery. Nut oils. Cleanly medicinal.

Finish: Soot. Vanilla. Nut oils. Oily. Water adds chilli seeds. More alcohol burn. Buttery. Medicinal.

Conclusion: This is a sooty, oily whisky. Initially though it comes across as sweet and honeyed on those early sips, but it quickly moves beyond that to become thing with oily, sooty thickness. Despite that it somehow manages to keep a slightly clean medicinal character as a base.

It feels very much every inch the Islay, rocking as it is the soot and the medicinal character. Admittedly it has less salty and meaty than usual, but still it weighs just enough of that to be identifiable. It is a very clean dram up front, ending up instead as a thick sooty and gritty dram on the way out.

Water brings out a bit of heat to it. With more of the high alcohol being evident, and a mix of chilli seeds and ginger warmth. It feels big and thick, mouth coating and warm.

It is good, but for the price tag it does not stand out as a special one. It is a clean and polished example of the Islay, with a bit of sooty grittiness at the end to pep it up. That works well, but doesn’t push the limits of what can be done with a good whisky.

Very nice still, slightly buttery as well, something that seems to be a trend at the uber whisky tasting tonight. If I had to pick an element that stands out it is more oily than the norm considering how clean the rest of the dram is – so if you want that oilier take on clean medicine this may catch your eye. Otherwise I would say the far cheaper Laphraog Quarter Cask is still the way to go for a good Islay drop. This is nice but not stand out

Background: 400th Whisky Tasting Note! I actually had something special set aside for no 400, but since it fell on the final entry of an Uber whisky tasting it seemed rude to not go with this one instead. Soooo … Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Elements of Islay do slightly smaller than normal, 50cl independent bottles of Islay whisky with the faux chemical letter identifying the distillery. In this case Pi is Port Charlotte. Hey don’t ask me, I didn’t pick it. Port Charlotte is itself a heavily peated take on Bruichladdich. A quick google tells me this was aged in a mix of three bourbon barrels. Should be interesting.

Bruichladdich: Micro Provenance Cask Evolution Exploration: Sauternes 2006 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 12 Year: 58.4% ABV)

Visual: Light clear gold. Fast thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Cloying sweet apricot. Dessert wine. Pears. Grapes. Light rubber. Water adds wine gums sweets. More water adds slight salt.

Body: Pears. Almost evaporates on the tongue. Water brings out dessert wine. Vanilla. Light tannins. More water adds dried banana, more apricot. Even more water adds vanilla and slight salt.

Finish: Pears. Dry. Mineral water. Alcohol air. Water adds vanilla. Toffee. Dessert wine. Wine gums.

Conclusion:This is so strong yet sweet. The expected dessert wine and apricot notes come out from the neat spirit, yet more than that you get subtle pear and grape notes underneath, I’m guessing native spirit characters accentuated by the sweetness to give more complexity than often comes from this sweet and sometimes overpowering barrel ageing.

Neat the strong alcohol means that it almost evaporates off the tongue, giving no peat, no salt or any of the expected Islay character. It is clean, slightly rubbery, but with gentle fruit over an impressive alcohol weight but restrained burn. To get the spirit to stick around and to get the slight Islay salt character coming out you need to add a fair amount of water, but don’t worry, it can take it.

Even with water it is so very clean in the spirit character, lots of dry yet sweet dessert wine, and that gentle fruit, with the pear and apricot given more room to roam. The lack of overt Islay character is matched by a lack of lot of the Bruichladdich style. Instead you get lots of subtle complexity from the oak, lots of depth in those sweeter flavours for the water to bring out.

If it had more influence from the native Bruichladdich spirit then I would have no hesitation in recommending this as an absolute stonker. As is it is a very nice show of oak ageing, especially with water, and has wonderful subtlety in its weight.

Background: This was the third of five whiskies at Independent Spirit‘s Uber whisky tasting. I love those things, a chance to try five whiskies I might not otherwise get to try. As always with tastings like this it was in a social environment so I may have been influenced by people around me and the notes may be slightly shorter than usual. Hope you still enjoy. Anyway, this one is from Bruichladdich’s cask experimentation, made with optic barley and aged in the unusual Sauternes which in my experience adds a lot of sweetness to a whisky, so should be interesting seeing how it interacts with the Islay character here.

Elements Of Islay: OC5 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 59.8% ABV)

Visual: Pale yellowed grain. Slow thick streaks from the spirit.

Nose: Chilli pepper. Chipotle chilli notes. Light charcoal dust. Fresh white crusty bread. Water adds dried beef, beetroot and pulled pork along with a salt touch.

Body: Golden syrup. Mass of alcohol. Barbecue glaze. Water adds more barbecue sauce glaze, custard. Salt. Drying. Syrup notes and cherries.

Finish: Barbecued meat. Pear. Smoke. Water makes more oily. Slow cooked stew. More water adds more peat, beef and syrup. Light strawberry. Chipotle sauce.

Conclusion: I’m slightly mixed on my opinion on this, as there is a heck of a lot going on in the near 60% of abv and a hundred whatever levels of peat per million it throws at you. In general I love the Octomore in all the expressions I have encountered, I love the range it brings in, but with this one it feels like there are many different mashed up elements that are great, but do not come together here.

Early on it is mainly showing the intense alcohol, with less peat intensity than you would expect as the sheer strength makes it come across quite closed. Water is definitely needed to bring out the cornucopia of clashing notes I alluded to earlier. There is a glazed barbecue backbone, smoke but still less that you would expect. It is more meaty than anything else, slow cooked, falling apart to touch meat in the stew and pulled pork imagery.

More water clashes with the peat imagery even more as an oddly sweet syrupy core comes out, another element added in that pulls the whisky in yet another different direction. First the glazed barbecue, then the meat and peat, the syrup, red fruit late on – all elements I enjoy,but not a coherent whole.

Enjoyable, and a wild ride, but doesn’t do better than the more focussed, though lower abv, intensity of the standard Octomore – and with that you get a silly shiny bottle as well.

Background: Final of the whiskies from the recent Uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. If you are wondering what happened to the fourth whisky, I already have a bottle of it and will be doing full notes at a a later date. This is an independent Octomore bottling, from the very respectable Elements Of Islay range – Octomore being Bruichladdich’s very highly peated whisky. This is probably the only cask strength bottling of Octomore I have seen, which makes it interesting in itself. I’m a big fan of Octomore even if the super high peat level is more of a marketing gimmick than a huge element of the whisky itself. As is usual for these kind of events I was slightly distracted by the event, but still tried to do the best notes I could as who would know when I would get the chance to try whisky like this again. I was more inebriated by the point I took the photo of the glass, so it is just a tad out of focus, to say the least.


Bruichladdich: Octomore: 10 Years(2nd Release) (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 Year: 57.3% ABV)

Visual: Dark gold.

Viscosity: Very fast thick streaks.

Nose: Smokey bacon. Lots of peat smoke. Slight salt. Smoked beef. Beef stew and pigs in blankets. Slight cherry pocked digestives.

Body: Honey. Huge peat. Lime. Dried beef. Slight cherries. Sauternes wine. Water adds peach and honey and makes much sweeter. Slight custard sweetness notes.

Finish: Alcohol tingle. Salt. Very medicinal. Slightly numbing. Honey. Peach syrup added with water.

Conclusion: This is so much sweeter than the younger Octomore! It still comes in with the heavy peat and medicinal style though, do not worry. As it has soothed a bit with age that now comes across as a massively meaty feast of a whisky – especially on the nose. Kind of a smoked meat (especially smoked bacon) fest, That aroma however does not hint at a lot of what is to come. In fact originally it comes across more smoked meat than even the other Octomores I have tried.

The body keeps the peaty character, but is much more honeyed, and has an almost Sauternes wine sweet character. It is so sweet and fruity under the heavy peat that it is less that smooth assault you might expect and is instead a much more complex yet still peaty beast. Without water the finish is very medicinal, again calling to its roots as a more harsh whisky, water again brings out that sweetness.

It is so unexpected – still meaty. Still peaty – but very much tamed by the newfound sweetness. Even slight custard sweetness over the salted Islay base. If you want sheer assault then this has moved away from that and you will be let down. If you want a big sweet Islay style peated whisky – well this is very good and still intense. The honey wine soaked meat feast peat whisky.

Background: Fourth whisky at the uber whisky tasting at Independent Spirit. I loved my previous experience with the Octomore so was very much looking forwards to trying this 10 year version. Now, while it is peated at 167 ppm, age tends to take away peat character quite quickly – so wasn’t quite sure how this would work out for intensity. Also this has been aged in both Bourbon and the more unusual Grenache Blac casks. One of 18,000 bottles – so fairly but not insanely rare. My whisky glass photos are getting a bit crap now – sorry – alcohol influence! As before due to the social event and the number of whiskies tried, by notes may not be as detailed as normal – nor it seems my photos. As always I tried my best.

Octomore 6 1

Bruichladdich: Octomore 6.1 (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 5 Year: 57% ABV)

Visual: Clear grain gold.

Viscosity: Fast thick streaks.

Nose: Very dry. White wine. Medicinal. Alcohol tingling feel. Peppered beef. Orange liquore. Water adds sulphur and makes suddenly very peaty and slightly grassy.

Body: Peat. Prickling feel. Beef slices. Medicinal and drying. Pepper. Grapes. Dessert wine. Vanilla toffee. Grassy. Oak. Apples. Water adds vanilla cream and emphasises the peat.

Finish: Smoke. Dry, Vanilla. Beef jerky. Peat. Light paprika. Toffee. Medicinal character. Cardamom. Rice. Apples and light lime.

Conclusion: This is intense and immense. Oddly the immense character comes less in the form of smoke and more in the very medicinal character that dominates the early part of the spirit. The peat brings in beef slices and does still bring in a reasonable heft of smoke, all very drying. It is an experience just for that but behind the punch there is light vanilla sweetness and wine like white grapes, surprisingly delicate notes behind the assault and a great balance to the peat. While it is not as complex as Ardbog it is just as thrilling as you would expect.

Oddly, after having the 5.1 a year ago, this is actually less drying and more towards the medicinal as said, as opposed to the 5.1 which was more thick peat feel. This however balances much better, there is more room, when you acclimatise, to feel the softer notes behind.

With water added it becomes even more overpowering in the peat, causing an initial gasp of surprise as the water has the exact opposite effect of the expected. The huge, bigger peat however gains an even softer backing with apples in amongst the grapes. It is much lovelier here, richer and smoother without any sacrifice to the peat. With more water it becomes creamier and creamier behind the medicinal front. The further you go, the more it becomes an exercise in contradicting notes that somehow work.

Intense neat, wine like and yet harshly powerful with water, creamy strength and peaty with even more water, it is never super complex but never lets down on its reputation. Very full, and yet can feel so surprisingly soft at times as you become used to the peat. Well worth trying for what it is, both an experience and a good whisky.

Background: One thousand drink reviews! That is just slightly scary, but for the big 1K we have this special number. At 167 ppm this is nearly the peatiest whisky ever (version 5.1 which I tried but never reviewed was 169). This was drunk at the amazing Independent Spirit Rare Whisky event at Circo. When they say rare they mean rare, while there are still some bottles of this still available they tend to go very fast and then the price rockets up. We had five whiskys that night, with other guests, my friend Matt, and Chris from Independent spirits all giving their thoughts. Since I know how easy it is to get psychosomatic flavours after someone else mentions them consider the above a view of the general opinion on the whisky so I can call it a feature rather than a bug. Due to the nature of the event my notes were somewhat haphazard, but hopefully I’ve managed to put them together into something readable. Thanks to the guys at Independent spirit for such an awesome event and for giving me a cheer for completing my thousandth review.

The Peat Project

Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte: Peat Project (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: No age Statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Very light barley grain.

Viscosity: Quite thick fast streaks.

Nose: Dried beef slices. Peat. Barley. Honey. Sea salt wet rocks. Sulphur.

Body: Smooth. Light lime. Peat. Wet bogs and seaweed. Honey. Barley cakes. Toffee. Salt. Water adds sweeter custard and vanilla to the peat and lime.

Finish: Smoke. Broth. Lime sorbet. Toffee. Water makes smoke over vanilla toffee. Malt chocolate. Dry at the end.

Conclusion: Peaty whisky is rarely this smooth, nor this fruity. From the moment you see the very clear spirit you know something is going to be different here, then when the first light touch on the tongue doesn’t hint at the peat, instead giving lime in a sorbet fashion playing there. Soon enough though the peat and smoke rises within and gives it its namesake.

This is so very unusual, that sharp citrus and never truly medicinal despite the peat and island salt rocks brought in amongst beef broth flavours. There is a lightness of character that belies the dryness that peat can often bring. This is whisky that feels deceptive in the turns it takes, keeping you on your toes for what is coming next. It is a whisky where you can appreciate it best if you come to it already loving the range of whisky that exist, as it runs the gamut, light and sweet early on, then heavily peaty, then drying. It really works the range, never really committing to a cause or style.

By the end of the whisky you finally get those starting elements of the medicinal nature coming to the fore, though as said, it never fully commits. It is an interesting whisky, it never reaches the heights of flavour of the more dedicated Islay style whiskies like the amazing Laguvulin, but instead takes you on a much wider journey. Very enjoyable.

Background: Port Charlotte, the other Bruichladdich. This time apparently an attempt to discover what the old days peated Bruichladdich would have tasted like. Now I’ve tried Octomore which is what if Bruichladdich was insanely peated, and I enjoyed that, so when I saw this in Brewdog Bristol I decided to give it a try. Yes Brewdog Bristol again, leave me alone.

Laddien 10

Bruichladdich: The Laddie Ten (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: 10 year: 46% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold.

Viscosity: Quite fast thick streaks.

Nose: Light smoke. Grapes. Light salt and lightly medicinal.

Body: Salt. Broth. Grapes. Vanilla. Smooth. Tangerine. Water sweetens to more grapes and adds green fruits, apples maybe. Touch of liquorice near the end.

Finish: Coffee in mild amounts. Salt. Medicinal. Gin feel. Tangerine. Water adds apples and grapes.

Conclusion: Unpeated they say, I wouldn’t have guessed from the aroma. While it isn’t peated it does have smoke and it sure shows that Islay character, and the two are heavily linked in my mind. When you try it without water some of this character even follows through into the main body.

Now if you add water it is an entirely different ball game, you get unexpected green fruit with grapes and apples all bright and shining amongst the still present Islay character. It is juicy, again going against type. The finish however never hides what it is. Salty, dry and so very Islay.

The finish feels like both a capstone, and slightly out of place. It reminds you of the birthplace of the whisky, but it is so different from the soft apples and fruit of main body of the whisky that it goes against those strengths it has built up.

That is a minor flaw as the lovely different take on a whisky within the Islay range makes it worth trying by itself. There is a lot of character, not the character you would expect but that is what makes it worth it.

Rough at the edges but that is part of the charm in a way, and a worthwhile and distinct expression.

Background: Found at “The Star” in Bath who usually have a nice selection of whisky going on there. This is, according to the label an unpeated whisky, and Bruichladdich often have very low peat levels in their whisky, usual for an Islay distillery. I’ve been hearing good things about the Laddie Ten so when I got the chance to try a measure I thought I should give it a go.

Bruichladdich: Port Charlotte: An Turas Mor (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: no age statement: 46% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold.

Viscosity:  A lot of fast thin streaks.

Nose:  Peat and smoke.  Light dried beef jerky.  Campfire ash.  Dry pomegranates.  Water makes more broth like. Beef crisps.  Aniseed and peppercorn.

Body: Burnt and peated. Touch of sweet syrup below that. Charred thin beef slice. Dried apricot, pomegranate and vanilla cream. Water makes sweeter and the meat and peat roils in.

Finish: Dry. Chocolate and smoke. Slightly medicinal dryness.  Light charring. Dried peach slices. Water makes more chocolate and smoke.

Conclusion: I’ve played with a few whiskys recently that turned out to be very dry and peaty and a few of them have turned out a bit too mouth drying and antiseptic for me. Oft the ones with higher alcohol content exacerbating the effect.

On first sip I thought this one was going to be another of those. The dry peat and medicinal style is distinctly present, but backed up with light fruit and sweetness.  Then a few meagre drips of water take that edge off balancing it up just right.

Smoke on the nose, sweet and peat then into fantastic dryness and chocolate which gives great mouth freshness. It is still dry, even the fruit feels like dried fruit. The added flavour range does not reduce the distinctive style.

Near the end of the drink the alcohol becomes tongue numbing in intensity, even with the water and in but a single measure.  It is possible the whisky would have benefited from a touch more water but since I enjoyed the flavour balance so much I did not want to risk ruining it.  As is it has an impressively bracing style. If you have access to a full bottle I would advise taking some time to play with it as I’m fairly sure it will have a better range than I found.

The fruit to kick balance is impressive and I really want to return to it at some point to experiment more. A very impressive dry peat whisky with good complexity for the punch.

Background: An Turas Mor is apparently Gaelic for Great Journey. This is best I know the only multi vintage version of Port Charlotte with the rest being yearly releases of the evolving spirit. Port Charlotte is the name of the peated version of the Bruichladdich and has a good reputation in the whisky world. Found at the “Tasting Rooms” I just had to give it try.

Bruichladdich: Waves (Scottish Islay Single Malt Whisky: No Age Statement: 46%)

Visual: Very rich rose and apricot colour. Almost perfumeqsue. Very unusual

Nose: Peat beef and smoke. Light planed wood. Quite smooth. Water brings out a slight sulphur egg smell.

Body: Contradicts the nose by being rich and fruity. Peaches and apricots. Peat back. Sweet syrup. Beef casserole. Some custard in the sweetens as well. Spice red grapes. Water makes even sweeter and spicier.

Finish: Dried apricot. Light wood. Grows into some malt taste. Water makes a mulled wine touch that lasts long.

Conclusion: The first sip, they say, is taken with the eye.  Or is it the first bite. Same idea anyway.  This performs wonderfully to that first bite. Beautiful with an almost perfume and apricot colour, and it’s a nice visual key that you are about to try something a bit different.

The difference skips the aroma though. It has the usual pungent sulphur smell. Nice but not usual.  The difference then is in the main body. Bruichladdich is one of the milder Islays usually, but this brings quite the beef stew feel and a touch of island peat against a huge fruitiness. This fruitiness and spiciness is the wonderful part, unusual and works so well against the main dram.  The flavours don’t dim with water, instead expanding. The sweetness in particular booms post the first drops, easily strong enough to combat the Islay style.

Overall it gives that touch of extra character which Bruichladdich may need to stand out from its fellows, and a great touch it is.  It’s still not quite as complex as some of the other examples form the region, but in this case is definitely different and accentuates Bruichladdich’s quirks.

An easy sipping balance of sweet to peat. A relaxing Islay that I must say I do like

Background: Odd one to do research on here. The whisky menu listed this as a ten year, online research suggest seven. The bottle gives no clue. Also there seems to be different versions of this finished in different fashions. Best guess I think this one was finished in a Madeira cask, but don’t quote me on that. Fits the taste profile though. Drunk at The Tasting Room, where despite the fact I and my friends have been a bare two times, we were remembered and greeted with friendly conversation.  The latter half of the dram was had with some shortbread which was a nice accompaniment. Thanks to Dylan for providing the improvised background on this photo.

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