I’m happy to say my friends and I did our part a few years back, drinking our way through many of the earlier Laddie releases and ensuring the distillery kept the cash flow strong. It’s only now I rue the lack of foresight that might have had us squirrelling away a few of these old releases for future years and tastings. Fortunately I came across a couple bottles of this mid-2000s 12 year old expression recently, and for a very decent price. This ‘Second Edition’ would have been from about five years after the distillery’s 2001 restart, therefore built entirely on stock produced before the McEwan/Reynier era. In other words…most likely very different juice than the teal tin brings us nowadays.
Not sure if any of you are like me, but I find I’ve started to mark the passage of time through my whisky collection and recollections. The speed at which it rolls by is rather alarming when we look back at something like this malt and realize it hit the shelves nearly ten years ago now. Obviously a lot has happened in the Bruichladdich camp in that time, but a lot has gone down in my personal life as well. It’s arguable that this coastal Islay distillery is the one brand that has been most consistently present for me through it all. As I write this, I have tried at least 73 different Bruichladdich expressions. And when held up against the lot, this one holds its own quite well, boasting much more character than most 12 year olds currently on the market.
There is a recognizable Laddie DNA here, despite the different lineage, but this is not a whisky I can really see the current team producing. Hard to put a finger on just what is different, but I’d bet dimes to dollars that this one was a recasking of spirit from dead wood into something more active for its last few years*, and also that there is something in here a little older than 12. Not much older most likely, but maybe some 15 or so. Speculation aside, it’s neat to try a piece of history that speaks to the days before the Laddie machine really stepped it up into high gear.
(*We do know that when Jim McEwan and the gang took over the distillery they spelled out a bunch of barrels they were unhappy with and recasked much of the inherited maturing spirit.)
Nose: Slightly prickly. Nice sweet barley notes. A touch of dust and dunnage. Lemon, orange and honey. Something reminds of old books and old furniture. A very different character than contemporary Laddie, but not better or worse. Less on the butyric side, to be sure. Gets softer and fruitier the longer it breathes (which brings a creamier edge too). Maybe a drop of pear juice. A slight floral overtone.
Palate: Spicier arrival than expected. Like a cinnamon and ginger dusted fruit salad. A fleeting taste of banana cream pie. Still citric. Big grains and woods here too. More coastal on the palate than the nose hints at. By that trait, it is decidedly Laddie. Definitely has some nip to it. A lot of personality for a 12 year old. Leaves behind apple and toothpicks.
Thoughts: Enjoyable as hell, beyond simply being a nostalgia act. An easy drinker, if not a showstopper.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt