Whisky Odyssey
Old-fashioned with a twist of the modern 

Tasting notes for Bruichladdich at entry level

Imagine if someone twisted your arm and made you, forced you to say what your favourite Islay distillery is. What would you answer? On any given day this can vary for me between Lagavulin, Bowmore and Ardbeg. Caol Ila always the outsider. And of course good old Port Ellen, but that is never a fair comparison. But mentioning any one, would make me cry all night over not choosing another. On the other side of the spectrum, naming my least favourite Islay distillery is very simple. That is Bruichladdich. We taste it today because we are making the rounds past all the Islay distilleries. Why is it not my favoured distillery? There is no real reason for it, other than I was never really impressed with the products released. I love the cult around Bruichladdich, and you can never accuse them of being boring, but in the end it is also a matter of taste. In recent years however I have become very charmed by some ‘terroir’ minded products, like the Islay barley release, or the Bere barley for that matter. Today, let’s taste some entry level Bruichladdich.

Bruichladdich “The Classic Laddie”, bottled at 50 % abv

Makeup: From the Bruichladdich website: ‘The Classic Laddie is made from 100% Scottish barley, trickle distilled, non-chill filtered and colouring free.’ Also nice to know, this bottles comes without a tin, to reduce unnecessary packaging. With the beautiful new bottle design, this is not a big loss. This is a NAS whisky, but Whiskybase mentions a calculated age of 7 years old. I did not find anything to back up this claim.

General impressions: It is a good thing that when you name your whisky ‘something barley’, the first thing you sniff is indeed that. Very clean, crispy, with fresh lemon juice and a hint of empty barn on a sunny day. The animals are outside, the hey lies untouched. After a while, some more fruity notes appear. It indeed breathes the classic, laidback Bruichladdich character. The grassy notes make for the concluding Islay vibe, that makes me want to take a sip finally.

It is surprisingly hot, but when you get past that, there is a distinct note of sour dough and dry, soft wood tones. Water brings out a bunch of fruity notes, like banana, freshly washed pear, mango, but on the finish a bitter woody note remains. Excellently balanced.

Conclusion: A very decent introduction to Bruichladdich. I find it a bit austere or one-dimensional, but all the ingredients are there to really get the know the distillery character.

Score: 80 points

Bruichladdich The Laddie Eight, bottled at 50 % abv

Makeup: Matured in European and American oak casks. Obviously unpeated, as is always the case with Bruichladdich single malt. For peated expressions from these stills there is Octomore, Port Charlotte and the more rare Lochindaal.

General impressions: Quite a bit more dirty than the Classic Laddie. It also comes off a bit younger, even though they should roughly be around the same age. There is a hint of porridge, but sadly also some burned plastic that I don’t really appreciate. Wet carton, a little mold.
The taste is immediately very sweet, before a more harsher but satisfying mouthfeel kicks in. 

What a weird, schizophrenic whisky is this! I had the worst expectations after sniffing this Bruichladdich, but on the taste I cannot find anything off-putting. The European oak speaks volumes here, and I expect that it did not do the aroma any favors. After adding some water, slight sulphury notes emerges, which makes me want to put my glass away.

Conclusion: I loved the clean character of the Classic Laddie, but I struggle to understand what the goal was with this Laddie Eight. The integration of all parts needs some work, preferably some more years in the cask. Hit or miss, this one was a miss for me.

Score: 77 points
Disclaimer: taken from samples acquired via Whiskysite.nl

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