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Bladnoch 10 YO Sheep Label Sherry Butt #284

Armstrong - Gone but never forgotten

4 1492

@NozinanReview by @Nozinan

3rd May 2017

1

  • Nose
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  • Taste
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  • Finish
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  • Balance
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  • Overall
    92

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Raymond Armstrong and a group of partners restarted this mothballed distillery around the turn of the century. Unfortunately, with severe limitations by Diageo on what could be produced (part of the agreement), and other issues to which I am not privy, they were forced into receivership early in this decade.

I was lucky enough to get a few bottles of their 10-12 year old expressions, and when alerted by @Pandemonium that the distillery was closed (see: connosr.com/bladnoch-in-trouble-whisky-dis… ), I immediately ordered more and had them shipped to a friend in the US who is still working on getting them to me.

All of the Armstrong bottlings at 55%, I am given to believe, were single cask endeavours. Some of the bottles are labelled with the cask number and dates, and whether or not they are peated. Others just have the age. The spirit in this particular bottle was “lightly peated”, distilled Nov. 16, 2001, and bottled July 13, 2012, making it just over 10 ½ years young. It is the fourth bottle of Bladnoch I have opened (I also opened a 9 YO lightly peated mini) and the one that has been disappearing the quickest, having been opened December 17, 2016, gassed with each use, and with only 1/3 of the bottle left at tonight’s pouring. It is now decanted.

This expression is reviewed in my usual manner, allowing it to settle after which I take my nosing and tasting notes, followed by the addition of a few drops of water, waiting, then nosing and tasting.


Nose:

Rich, deep sherry, cabernet franc icewine, an umami note. No off notes. No alcohol spritiness. It has a complexity that is hard to describe. I could nose this a long time. Water raises the pitch of the fruity notes ever so slightly. 23/25

Taste: Flavour burst. Sweet sherry, grapes, cloves. Spiciness. Milk Chocolate. Heavenly. Water makes it a little spicier and more spirity. With time peppery and minty notes emerge. If there is peat, it’s well-disguised.23/25

Finish: Medium long, pleasant, slightly sweet. Wet, if that is a thing. 22/25

Balance: Beautiful Balance between the nose and the palate. If anything, just a little on the sweet side. 22/25

Score: 90/100

Adjusted score based on enjoyment: 92/100


Bottles like this one are what made me love Bladnoch. This is my second 10 YO bottle, and possibly my second favourite (the first 10 was my favourite) of the 5 expressions I've tried.

I have visited the new Bladnoch website. The distillery is, from what I understand, owned by an Australian yoghurt magnate. Everything appears to be changed. The bottles are different, the maturation is different, and the prices are different. All OBs appear to be under 50%. They state they are natural colour and non-chill-filtered.

Would I try it? Yes, if reasonably priced (unlikely). But I get the impression the new owners are spending a lot more on marketing, and it makes me wonder whether the quality inside the bottle will hold up.

In any event, The Armstrong years are gone. I’m very fortunate to have gotten into whisky just in time to find this gem, and hope that anyone who wants to try a piece of history can get access to some.

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14 comments

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

Diegeo...shame what some big companies often do to great distilleries.

2 years ago 0

@BlueNote
BlueNote commented

@casualtorture Bladnoch's new owner is not Diageo, it's privately owned by David Prior, a rich Aussie.

2 years ago 0

@casualtorture
casualtorture commented

@BlueNote Cool, I wasn't aware they had been sold again. I had an Aussie, he was a great dog.

2 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

The "crime" of Diageo was that they placed limits on how much spirit could be distilled by the Armstrong group making them unable to achieve a critical mass, or so I understand.

The new owner may have a different deal...

2 years ago 2Who liked this?

@Victor
Victor commented

It is so ironic that it is during the phase of the popular success of whisky that the standards go down and the price-gouging goes up. Buy carefully!

2 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

More whisky reviews should feature Australian yoghurt magnates.

2 years ago 0

@vanPelt
vanPelt commented

OK, now I'm surprised! I just checked my bottle's label tag, which I kept after decanting, and it is the same cask and batch. This happens to be one of few whiskies that I just didn't know what to do with because of a bitter salty edge, I would call bile-y. (I find this a lot in Springbanks too, but to a lesser extent). I remember at the time there was only a whiskybase.com review, which said "salty/fishy" and I thought "yeah that fits!" I've blended most of it away :-( I'm not trying to rain on the parade, but this just serves as an example to me of just how truly different our impressions and tastes can be. I will try it again, tonight.

2 years ago 0

maltmate302 commented

Nice review @Nozinan , just a little bit of information on the Bladnoch situation for you. The distillery limitations imposed by Diageo was 100,000 litres per annum but the main problem was a falling out between the brothers Armstrong. Raymond was perfectly happy distilling whisky but brother Colin wished to sell. Although Raymond made several attempts to keep the distillery open ultimately without his brothers backing he was forced into receivership

Now Bladnoch has been completely refitted with new equipment and differently shaped stills so that the old Bladnoch style of whisky will soon be a distant memory.

2 years ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@maltmate302 Sad story... The Armstrong spirit was exceptional.

But they are marketing (on the website) 8YO 15 YO and 25 YO whisky. None of that can be coming from their new stills. The 8YO and maybe the 15 could be the Armstrong spirit, but not the 25. So I'm not sure what's going on...

2 years ago 0

@Ol_Jas
Ol_Jas commented

Info & reviews on the new Bladnoch releases here:

malt-review.com/2017/06/…

I'm prepared to ignore them again, like I do with OB Longmorns or OB Mortlachs.

2 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

@Ol_Jas I'll stick with my OB stash from the Armstrong years...

2 years ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

I just served myself a 15 cc pour of this just now to celebrate my 5000th comment on Connosr.

I wanted to post on a thread that might one day be read again by someone (unlike "what are you drinking now") and figured I should choose something special to me. The Armstrong years of production coincided with the birth and early development of my whisky journey.

Sadly, I have things to do and places to drive to so I am just nosing for now then will cover for later. 11 month after opening: The nose is identical to what I reviewed. I get layers of different rich tones. Moving my nose around in the Glencairn results in brighter or darker fruits (if I understand @Victor's nomenclature I feel like this corresponds to medium and low pitch notes). This completely fails to disappoint, I am happy to say.

Now I am eager to sip, but that will have to wait....

And I can continue to participate in some very interesting conversations without worrying about a special post for a special number.

Thanks to all of you on Connosr who have made this site interesting to have held my attention for so long, and when I do sip, I will toast to the special friendships (near and far) that have arisen from my membership on this site.

@Jeanluc, @Pierre, thank you for this site. Thank you very much.

about one year ago 1Who liked this?

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

3.5 hours later and I get Welch's gape juice on the nose and the lower pitch notes have receded like my brother's hairline. Finally tasting it is a real delight.

about one year ago 0

@Nozinan
Nozinan commented

And yesterday evening I was preparing some sample bottles to take with me to a hotel where I'll be enjoying my cousin's wedding but likely not a fantastic whisky selection. I decanted the remainder of my decanted bottle into a 60 cc bottle (just fit). A few drops left. I could have sworn that when they hit my tongue I was tasting the liquid around the maraschino cherry in a cherry blossom.

Yum.

8 months ago 1Who liked this?

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