As someone who keenly enjoys wasting time on social media, watching and listening to what everyone is enjoying, I have seen few distilleries get more press than Bruichladdich. Despite all of the attention, I had never had chance to try any of their whiskies, so with a desire to chance this, I picked up three 20cl bottles. The first up for review is the Islay Barley, which is one of Bruichladdich’s unpeated whiskies.
The distillery, which by the way is pronounced, Brook-Lad-Dee, aims to produce artisanal, local and authentic whisky. It was established by three brothers in 1881, at the time it was cutting edge and yet, as all family do, there were fall outs and the distillery stuttered forward for another century, until it was closed in 1994. However, in May 2001 it was purchased, stripped down and re-assembled. The aim was to focus on authenticity and on whisky that tastes like the place the spirit comes from and from the people who create it.
Price: £50-60 for a 70cl bottle, or £15-25 for the 20cl.
Appearance: The gold of a fading sun.
Aroma: Oak, Vanilla and Apple. As they mingle together the form the nasal equivalent of caramelised apple pie.
Taste: Almost straight away this whisky reveals its spice, which builds slowly and purposefully. There is a citrus acidity, but also a sweetness of golden sugar.
The heart of this dram is the combination of sweetness and of spice. Both elements sit perfectly balanced on the tightrope walk of flavour. The spicing sits on the tongue and moves toward the back of the mouth, where it is warming and moreish. The spice is warmth of cinammon, acidity of aniseed and darkness of treacle. The sweetness of the dram is somewhere in between light golden syrup and darker demerara sugar.
As the spice melts away, it leaves behind the flavours of oak, vanilla and honey. The citrus reappears, but more quietly. There is also a distinct waft of smoke floating across the palate.
Mouthfeel: Light, sweet, spicy and dynamic.
Overall: This was completely not what I was expecting from this dram. I have to admit to not having done much reading about this dram, so I was expecting all the usual things an Islay malt brings. This was much more subtle, much quieter, but still really interesting. I think it’s a dram to sit with, to get to know slowly and to fully appreciate through long term friendship.
Real Dram Factor: 7.2
More information: Bruichladdich Website
Buy Online: Bruichladdich Islay Barley Whisky 70 cl