The Lasses From Laddie
The Lasses from the Laddie
Bruichladdich Tasting 27th February 2015
I have a bit of a soft spot for Brucichladdich Distillery or Laddie as we call it, not just because their whiskies are exceptionally good, or that the distillery is one of the great Islay distilleries, but because the first time I saw Bruchladdich was in the 90’s when it was closed. The sign on the gate said something like “Go away and don’t come back” good job no one took any notice as the next time I visited in 2001 we were greeted by our mate Jim McEwan, who had just joined the new owners to head up production at the newly opened Bruichladdich. There was quite a change, the distillery was freshly painted and welcoming.
ack to the present day and for this tasting we welcomed Global Brand Ambassador Joanne Brown and Kate Hannett who runs the Bruichladdich Academy. It was a great pleasure to welcome these two as they very much represent the new generation of distillers at Bruichladdich. They started by giving us an update of what’s happening at Laddy now. Following 11 years as an independent distillery in 2012 Bruichladdich was sold to Remy Cointreau for £58 million, meaning that the financial future of the distillery has been secured. Remy are a good match for Laddy as they have no experience in whisky making. They very much leave the team on Islay to get on in their own unique
way under the leadership of CEO Simon Coughlin and Master Distiller Jim McEwan, both of whom were part of the 2001
consortium of owners. Laddie believe in Terroir – the whisky is not only the product of the land where it is made, but also the people and the wider community, this is reflected in the way they operate. All their whisky is bottled on site, using Islay water, this results in a higher number of local Islay employees – they have 71 currently (20 in the bottling hall). The whisky is bottled at 50% abv with no chilfiltering, so it retains all its natural oils, and natural texture, also no artificial colouring.
I’ve included the official Bruichladdich tasting notes for the whiskies – I think the passion that the team have for their whisky really comes through in these notes.
Bruichladdich Scottish Barley
This is the first of the three spirit styles distilled at Bruichladdich. This is the classic Laddie style unpeated, delicate and soft. The stills are tall and elegant which makes a refined spirit. As the name suggests made, with 100% Scottish Barley. Official tasting notes are:
Nose: Opening with barley sugar and a hint of mint before leading into the most wonderful notes of freshly cut wild flowers, buttercups, daisy, meadowsweet, myrtle, primrose and cherry blossom.
Palate: The fruits from distillation drift in on an Atlantic breeze and pop on the tongue like champagne bubbles. A combination of ripe green fruit, brown sugar and sweet malt bring closure.
Finish: Unforgettable it’s best enjoyed in good company, you just don’t want the evening to end, it brings warmth to the heart and soul. The clock slows down and the cares of tomorrow disappear into the dawn.
Bruichladdich Islay Barley
This is again classic Laddie unpeated, but the barley was grown at Rockside Farm on the Isle of Islay in 2007. The farm is only just up the road from the distillery on the Rinns of Islay and is very close to the Atlantic. I like this expression it’s a bit creamier, also I’ve been to Rockside Farm and seen the barley fields. Official tasting notes:
Nose: The bouquet amazes with the freshness of the spirit, the first notes are honey and lemon zest delivered from the cask and salt encrusted barley. Then savour aromas of flora and fauna growing wild on the peatlands and coastline of Islay.
Palate: The oak has been waiting patiently and now it cradles all of the aromatics. This malt is in so perfect a place at this time I cannot ever recall such a pleasurable taste experience.
Finish: The palate is bathed in an amazing spiritual composition. The viscosity of spirit ensures that the taste buds will still be experiencing the strong pulse of passion that has gone into the making of this true son of Islay.
Bruichladdich Black Art – 04.1 – 23 y/o
This is a seriously good whisky. The distiller’s skill is often referred to as “The Black Art”- this expression, crafted from different casks, is one of the finest whiskies we sell.
Nose: Little notes of rich, plump, crystallised grapes flirt over heavier notes of honey. Go deeper and you will find the tang of lemon and lime. This is the DNA of our Bruichladdich spirit.
Palate: It’s so, so mellow and mature and yes, you can find all of the aromatics on the taste buds and more!!! Chocolate and coconut, tangerine and papaya and a wonderful infusion of barley sugar with a pinch of cinnamon and aniseed.
Finish: Grilled peach and apricot sprinkled with Demerara sugar, quite outstanding.
Botanist Gin – 46%
At Bruichladdich they have a still called Ugly Bettie. Bettie is a Lomond still which was brought second hand from Ballantines distillery in Dumbarton. Bettie makes the Botanist Gin, an exceptional gin which is made using 31 botanicals. They use 9 regular botanicals found in many gins like Juniper, the other 22 botanicals are foraged on Islay. They are collected for the distillery by two Botanists Dr and Mrs Gulliver.
Port Charlotte – Scottish Barley
This is the second style of spirit made with Heavily Peated barley. The level of peatyness is about 40 pheonals PPM, Lagavulin, Laphroaig level. The Whisky is very different to the other peaty whiskies from Islay, more lighter, softer and flowery. Official notes:
Nose: A swell of aromatics flood the senses with notes of iodine, salty canvas, crushed sea shells, charred oak staves, black pepper and leather tobacco pouches.
Palate: Full of depth and complexity, the smokey sweetness of the barley contrasts beautifully with the marine freshness of the spirit and the richness of toffee and vanilla.
Finish: It’s long and heart warming, arousing feelings of pride and passion. It brings courage and strength, honesty and faith to your very soul.
Port Charlotte – Islay Barley.
Again using very local barley, and again a creamier Dram – buttery even.
Nose: It opens on bracken and bluebells then it’s warm crisp peat, dried barley with the smokiness drifting sensuously from the glass, shadowed by a salt sea breeze. It’s feisty, its fresh it’s smokey, sweet, minty, and marine.
Palate: It’s incredible, you have the dryness of the peat smoke together with soft fruits splashed with sea spray held in a crunchy basket of caramelised wood sugars and then its been sprinkled with lemon and pepper.
Finish: Parting from a special one is never easy especially when you have enjoyed their company with every drop in the glass, don’t worry it’s aromatics and flavours will stay with you for some time.
Octomore – 6.3 – Islay Barley – 64% abv
This is the third type of whisky made named after the farm behind the distillery owned by Joanne’s uncle, James Brown. The barley is peated to a massive 258 PPM. For the Port Charlotte the barley is slowly smoked over peat fires for 16-30 hours, Octomore is smoked for a week. The result is often a surprise to the first time drinker. You expect heavy charcoal but this whisky is complex and delicate, well as delicate as 64% abv whisky gets. Notes:
Nose: It opens on the call of the sea. Waves thundering into the west coast the wind sending a mist onto the moorland tempting the wild plants to release their unique aromas, notes of myrtle, meadowsweet, mint, and heather flower, wild thyme and red clover.
Palate: When the heat of the peat fires cool there is a spontaneous detonation of soft red grapes/cherries, Russian toffee, bitter chocolate, maple syrup and mellow oak.
Finish: Its long and strong. Warming the soul and lifting the heart, bring back memories of the early years when mens sweat instilled a unique character to the spirit. Today the DNA continues.
This was one of the best tastings we have had, a real pleasure to be involved.