LEGACY SERIES – ONE TO SIX / DNA 1&2 / 40 YEAR OLD
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.
DNA #1 – 36 YEAR OLD 41.0% ABV BOTTLE #673 BOURBON & SHERRY CASKS FROM SIXTIES & SEVENTIES FINISHED IN CHATEAU LE PIN WINE CASKS
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.