Bruichladdich is no stranger to No Age Statement whisky. In fact over the past ten or twelve years they’ve probably been one of the most visible proponents of the concept. I think this approach was first viewed by the distillery as a necessary maneuver in order to get whisky on the shelves throughout the first decade of production after their 2001 reopening.
Considering how fundamentally opposed I am to the idea of opaque marketing with whisky, I imagine it’s somewhat surprising (even to myself, if I’m to be honest) how much I adore and support Bruichladdich.
Let’s face it…no other distillery has done as much to reinvigorate the whisky world over the last few years as Bruichladdich. They’ve pushed hard for higher bottling strengths – first 46% as a standard, and now 50%. They’ve foregone artificial colouring. They’ve made a mockery of the concept of chill-filtration. Their employment of local labour is staggering, especially viewed in contrast to the two-man crews running some of Diageo’s multi-million litre producers. Their innovative cask play, phenol manipulation (and exploitation!), terroir-first approach, experiments with organic barley, unprecedented guerrilla marketing, over-the-top bottle designs and simply unparalleled passion are more than enough reason to keep dollars flowing from my bank account into theirs. There’s no two ways about it. Bruichladdich have made whisky exciting. I do begrudge them the NAS thing, but absolutely support them in perpetuity for everything else.
So that’s Bruichladdich. Now let’s talk about this Bruichladdich: the new Scottish Barley core release. This malt supercedes 2011’s Laddie 10, the distillery’s first proper 10 year old under the new regime. Unfortunately, if all the sources I’ve culled are correct, Bruichladdich simply couldn’t keep production at a level that would support an ongoing 10 year old at this time. That particular malt was met with such positive acclaim and widespread demand that the distillery finally had to step away from the idea of the Laddie 10 as their core expression and back up a few steps into the NAS territory again to give themselves some breathing room. The Laddie 10 is still available at the distillery, from what I understand.
Oh well. There are worse problems to have than overwhelming demand, I suppose.
The logical first question would most likely be whether or not the Scottish Barley is a step down from the Laddie 10. And I honestly wish I could answer that for you. Unfortunately I don’t have a bottle of the Laddie 10 open at the moment. In a couple weeks time I will be able to try them head to head and assess which comes out on top. There may be slight score adjustments to the respective reviews at that time. Either way…that score is a personal assessment. Don’t get hung up on the number. Instead, just read the tasting notes below. At the end of the day, though, this is a really good whisky. Well worth your time. Well worth your money.
Nose: Orange. Maybe a vague touch of tangerine or something semi-tropical. Scone dough. Very mild vanillins. Rosewater Turkish Delight. Lemon. The barley is still recognizable through it all. Sweet and balanced.
Palate: Some nice heat on arrival. Barley sugar sweetness up front. A nice candied fruit follows. Grassy Sauvignon Blanc tones. A very slight (but very nice) fuel note that dissipates with time in the glass. Still getting some orange. A touch of pepper. Toothpick and apple skin. Quite drying. None too complex, but doesn’t need to be.
Thoughts: This is NAS, so the immediate assumption is youth, and while there is certainly a heft of young whisky in here, I think there are a few slightly older casks thrown in to add a little softness and knock the edges off a bit.
– Reviewed by: Curt
– Photo: Curt