May 162012

Bruichladdich Golder Still

51.0% abv

Score:  87/100


The oldest in the ‘Still’ series at 23 years, Golder Still is somewhat of a puzzler.  Reaping the benefit of a special period of final maturation in smaller square casks (I know…what?), one would logically expect a whisky older than its years.  Not exactly the case here.  Having said that, what we do end up with is a damn fine malt.  Spectacular?  Never.  Smooth, sweet and satisfying though.  No two ways about it.

Sweet and fruity, like sugar cookies or raw pastry dough.  Notes of nice ol’ bourbon.  Apple turnover and drops of vanilla.  Very mild…entirely pleasant.

The palate…sadly, can’t hold a candle to the nose.  I don’t mean to suggest it is bad, quite the contrary actually, but there’s a wee bit of a disconnect here.  A slight tartness is met with a rather lively oak that should have been tempered by 23 years.  I can only conclude this is the influence of the final ‘square cask’ maturation.  The florals develop midway through…kind of a pleasant surprise…and leave a light and fresh linger.  Quite nice.

This one didn’t have me at hello, but it did make me want to hang around to get to know ‘er.


Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:36 pm
May 022012

Bruichladdich Redder Still

50.4% abv

Score:  90.5/100


Bruichladdich will forever live in infamy for their bold experimentation with different cask maturation, transfers and finishes.  The use of wine casks, in particular has become somewhat of a hallmark for this downhome Islay distillery.  Much of this can be laid at the feet of master distiller, Jim McEwan, I imagine.  But I can’t help but think that the primary catalyst must be Mark Reynier, the man directly responsible for Bruichladdich’s phoenix act.  Reynier’s background before tackling the ‘Laddie ressurection was in wine.

Some of these innovations have bordered on genius.  Others are more akin to novelty (in the eyes of this humble taster, anyway).  Still others are more like Frankenstein’s monster; the pieces simply don’t fit right.

In the case of Redder Still, fortunately, we have the first.  This is cask play that has resulted in a bloody good dram.

The nose…

Grapes and perfume.  Orange zest.  Creamy swiss chocolate.  There is a beautiful melange of mild baking spices, and possibly the faintest hint of cherry in shortbread.

The palate is as sweet as you’d expect.  Not only sweet, but wine-rich and slightly tannic.  The wood is still singing, but meets some bolder flavors in marzipan and MacIntosh apple.  The finish?  What do you expect?  Imagine ten minutes after a glass of sweet wine.  That and a mouthful of apple.  Lovely and long.

This is wine maturation done right.  Far and away the best of the ‘Still’ series.

…and, man…what a hue on this one!


Reviewed by:  Curt

– Photo:  Curt

 Posted by at 9:08 pm
Jul 172011




What does LEGACY mean as its applies to this series of whiskies tasted?  We, the gang of four (almost the gang of three, after a heated debate over scoring) set out to answer this question.  Tempers were stemmed after one of the gang of four reminded us that burying a body in the ground might prove to be difficult after one’s been drinking.

The Legacy here is in the stock of whisky laid down prior to the distillery being mothballed in 1994.  And in the stillmen who worked there before the production went silent.  Stillmen like Neil MacTaggart, who started at Bruichladdich in 1970; Duncan McGillivray in 1974 (sorry for breaking your sod cutter/lifter back in 2008); and Duncan MacFadyen in 1989, who came back in 2001 to continue production.  The Legacy is also in the rich history, starting with the brothers William, John and Robert Harvey who built the distillery in 1881, up on the bank near the shores of Loch Indaal and named it as such.

I believe that the distillery workers and the owners of Bruichladdich, past and present, collectively set out to make the FINEST SPIRIT that could be made, as they draw great pride (also daily drams) from their jobs.  This legacy quote from Woodrow Wilson summarizes how I feel about whisky making:  “You are not here merely to make a living.  You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a FINER SPIRIT of hope and achievement.  You are here to enrich the world.  You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand”.

What is the future of Bruichladdich and the continued  legacy of this great establishment?  It is no secret that Andrew Grey is no longer working for the distillery, rumors of a sale persist, an unwelcome recession has hurt cash flow, along with delaying plans to start up a second distillery at Port Charlotte and criticism still abounds over the amount of expressions on the market.  But people come and go, every distillery sells sooner or later, the economy will rebound and having a greater choice in your whisky section is always a good thing.  If the current ownership were to sell (PLEASE, JUST NOT TO DIAGEO!!!) the legacy left behind by Andrew Grey, Jim McEwan (please never stick your finger in my whisky glass again), Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin and the other thirty plus owners and employees, would be tasted for years to come and all the innovation and hard work would be realized by both the future owners and by us, the whisky drudges and judges.



LEGACY #1   –   36 YEAR OLD  40.6% ABV BOTTLED 2002 BOTTLE #896

NOSE:  Honey, butter, floral, fruity.

TASTE:  Cinnamon, raspberry/strawberry.  Very sweet.

FINISH:  Medium to long.  Tad briny.

ASSESSMENT:  Nice and pleasant to drink.

RATED:  #5 of the six Legacy series and #8 overall


LEGACY #2   –  37 YEAR OLD 41.8% ABV BOTTLED 2003 BOTTLE #972 OF 1500

NOSE:  Punchy peach.  Grassy.

TASTE:  Sweet, nutty.

FINISH:  Medium, little dry.

ASSESSMENT:  Worn down by age.  I think I can taste Jim McEwan’s finger in this one.

RATED:  #6 of the Legacy series and #9 overall.


LEGACY #3  –   35 YEAR OLD 40.7% ABV BOTTLED 2004 BOTTLE #206 OF 1572

NOSE:  Butterscotch, very creamy.  Fruity.

TASTE:  Almost tropical.  Chewy.

FINISH:  Great long smooth finish.

ASSESSMENT:  Reminds me of eating fresh strawberries with clotted cream at Wimbledon.

RATED:  #1 of the Legacy series and #3 overall.


LEGACY #4  –    32 YEAR OLD 47.5% ABV BOTTLED 2005 BOTTLE #129 OF 820

NOSE:  Apples & raisins.  Spices.

TASTE:  Honey. Botanicals.  The sweet honey coats your tongue.

FINISH:  Long and warming.

ASSESSMENT:  Like drinking liquid gold.  Similar to the 1970.

RATED:  #4 of the legacy series and #6 overall.


LEGACY #5   –   33 YEAR OLD 40.9% ABV BOTTLED 2006 BOTTLE # 993 OF 1690

NOSE:  Oaky.  Caramel and almonds .  Apricots.

TASTE:  Very demure.  Sweet.  Licorice.

FINISH:  Creamy.  Medium.

ASSESSMENT:  Not a bad expression of an older Bruichladdich.

RATED:  #3 of the legacy series and  #5 overall.


LEGACY #6   –   34 YEAR OLD 41.0% ABV BOTTLED 2007 BOTTLE #170 OF 1704

NOSE:  Light and dark fruits.  Honey and mint.

TASTE:  Cream.  Cherries and cinnamon.

FINISH:  Medium and very light.

ASSESSMENT:  Completely lip-smacking.

RATED:  #2 of the legacy series and #4 overall.




NOSE:  Candied cherries.  Floral and some honey.

TASTE:  Vanilla, milk chocolate.  Raisins.

FINISH:  Long.  Little dry.  Fades gently at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  What a great drink.  Could drink this all day long.

RATED:  #1 of the DNA series and #2 overall.


DNA #2  –   32 YEAR OLD 47.4% ABV DISTILLED 1977 BOTTLED 2009 BOTTLE # 385 OF 844

NOSE:  Musty.  Spearmint.  Butterscotch.

TASTE:  Licorice.  Chocolate.  Nutty.

FINISH:  Crisp and long.

ASSESSMENT:  Nice drink to savor.

RATED:  #2 of the DNA series and #7 overall.


40 YEAR OLD  43.1% ABV  DISTILLED OCTOBER 24 , 1964 BOTTLED 2004  BOTTLE #230 OF 550

NOSE:  Minty fresh bourbon.  Farmy.  Ripe melons.

TASTE:  Tropical and much more.  Creamy.

FINISH:  Long and enjoyable.  Bit briny at the end.

ASSESSMENT:  Number one favorite of the night.  Best expression of Bruichladdich I have ever tasted.

RATED:  #1 overall.



*Please, Bruichladdich, buy back as many privately owned casks as you can find, to bottle more of the 40 year!

It seems that whenever  it comes to Bruichladdich, for every action there is an equal and opposite criticism, more so than any other Distillery.


– Maltmonster

 Posted by at 9:40 am
Feb 212011

Malmonster weighs in on two drams exclusive to the Calgary market (or as far as can be muled or shipped).  Great whisky at great shops.  I would recommend moving quickly if you hope to get your hands on these.





Two exclusive Manzanilla Sherry cask 12 year old single malt Scotch whisky bottlings for * (CCCUFS) Calgary from Springbank & Bruichladdich.

A little background for the benefit of the great unwashed.  Sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes in Spain. Fino is variety of Sherry that is very dry and pale as a Canadian after a long winter.  Manzanilla is a very light variety of the Fino Sherry.  Quality used Manzanilla Sherry casks are something that the accountants weep over because of the price.  Accounts are not well loved by most master distillers.

The contender Tommy Dreamer aka “Pretty Boy” for SPRINGBANK

Distilled 1996 – Bottled 2008 56.4% ABV Cask # 258 Manzanilla 12 Year old.  Limited to 594 bottles.  Bottled exclusively for Kensington Wine Market in Calgary.

NOSE:  Burnt sugar, spicy Partagas cigar, nutmeg.

TASTE:  Chewy vibrant spice, chocolate cake, almonds.

FINISH:  Long and warm, but very smooooooth.

ASSESSMENT:  Great stuff.  The people that helped choose this cask did a great job and should be consulted for any future cask selection.

Kensington's 1996 Springbank

The upstart Fit Finlay aka “The Belfast Bruiser” for BRUICHLADDICH

Distilled 1998 – Bottled 2010 55.8% ABV Manzanilla cask.  Limited to 240 bottles.  Bottled exclusively for Willow Park Wines & Spirits Calgary

NOSE:  Banana custard, chocolate fudge, honey.  There is way more here than I have described, may need some help on this one.

TASTE:  Creamy cappuccino, marzipan, orange peel.

FINISH:  Long and sensuous.

ASSESSMENT:  This will set your heart a-bubblin, on the rocky road to Dublin.  One of the best and most interesting sherry casks I’ve tasted from Bruichladdich.

Willow Park's Bruichladdich

* CCUFS: Calgary Current Center of the Universe For Scotch

          – MM

 Posted by at 9:47 am
Jan 252011


           Tasting of a series of three one off bottlings from Bruichladdich;  Blacker Still / Redder Still / Golder Still



Well in this case the opaque colored glass vessels might hint at the liquid contained inside, but the greater depth of this product is what’s hidden inside.  The radically different favors of each bottle share little in common with one another other than they all were born of the Bruichladdich stills.


20 YEARS OLD   1986-2006   50.7% ABV.   Limited To 2840 Bottles, Matured in Sherry casks.

NOSE:  Burnt caramel, raisins and ham.  Light smoke

TASTE:  Both tart and sweet.  Spice, chocolate.  Chewy for sure

FINISH:  Intense at first then fades quickly.  Medium to long

COLOUR:  Deep mahogany

ASSESSMENT:  I’m a sucker for scary Sherry, but this Sherry is more aggressive than a Christian Bale Rant. Not the Black Bowmore as someone suggested to me, but is still very good.




22 YEARS OLD   1984-2007    50.4% ABV.  Limited to 4080 Bottles, Matured in first fill bourbon casks and finished in Chateau Lafleur Pomerol Bordeaux casks.

NOSE:  Refreshing fragrant, marshmallow and creamy honey

TASTE:  Vibrant oranges.  Mulled wine.  Tad chalky

FINISH:  Long and gets more intense and warming at the end

COLOUR:  Copper amber

ASSESSMENT:  This has more wine than what was heard from Paris Hilton in jail.  Almost needed to break out the cheese for this dram.  Was a favorite of one of my neighbors who doesn’t normally like whisky.  All in all this whisky is a great example of wine finishing.


23 YEARS OLD   1984-2008   51.0% ABV.  Limited to 4866 Bottles, matured in unusual rare squat bourbon hogsheads casks allowing more contact between whisky and wood.

NOSE:  Rich malt.  Apples and raisins.  Whiff of smoke

TASTE:  Oaky at first giving way to gentle cream.  Soft fruits

FINISH:  Medium plus a little more

COLOUR:  Straw gold

ASSESSMENT:   This works as well as Tom Hanks in the movie ‘Joe Versus The Volcano’, defies description.  One for the book of “easier to ask for forgiveness”.

I still think the common denominator with the three releases is that Bruichladdich is still trying, and is still leading the industry with new still and old still made whisky products.  So as long they are still producing, they can still count on me to be still buying their product.  Still I ponder in the still of the night what Bruichladdich meant when they named these three releases something still other than they were made from a still by a still-person or maybe they meant that they were excited to still be in business with all the big money players still out there.

– Maltmonster

 Posted by at 6:47 pm