When trying a whisky I try to avoid reading tasting notes so as to keep a clean slate. Bruichladdich 18 year old, therefore, was able to throw me a curveball. I really like Islay whiskies and although delicious, this bottle had a character that took me by surprise.
Nose: Perhaps unlike other Islays, this seemed a little smoke-less and unpeated. But this allowed the oak to come through fairly strong. Palate: Very pleasing. It was subtly sweet, like cinnamon and apples, or spiced red wine, or salted honey (I don't know if that's a thing, but if it is I imagine it would taste like this whisky somehow). It almost seemed to have the profile of a Canadian rye whisky, were it not for the peaty smoke that lingered in the background just enough to remind you you were actually drinking an Islay single malt. At first my taste buds were conflicted but then they really started enjoying themselves. Mouth: very smooth, not too syrupy or oily. I never really notice much variation in this respect across whiskies, but I would say that if I had to put my finger on it I would describe it that way. Finish: Really quite good. The flavours never peaked nor subsided too quickly and they were all very even throughout. The spicy-ness was almost simultaneous with the smoky-ness, which made for very enjoyable tastes long after swallowing.
I sampled this whisky on the rocks. My first sip was maybe one or two minutes later so some of the ice had melted, introducing some water to the whisky. I feel like this unlocked the flavours better than might have been the case had I sampled it neat. I expect as much based solely on the sniff I had from the bottle, so I will have to try some more to truly make up my mind. It almost seems like a shame to dilute it, no matter how well I think it opened it up.
The ratings I gave this whisky are only detracted by the nose. A really strong Islay I usually smell three to four times as much as I drink it. With this glass I noticed myself only having a smell on the way in for a drink. It's colour and bottle were also not very appealing. These things were, admittedly, minor factors in the overall consideration, but I am a stickler for the softer parts of a dram that make for a complete experience. That said I am willing to give up the colour and nose if that meant preserving the taste I found in that dram. I only raise this to note that I may have bumped up the score for the nose to better reflect what I thought overall. Keep that in mind when taking a look at the scores.
Hardly scientific, I know, but full disclosure and all that.