This is the first ‘Black Art’ edition, a 19-year old Bruichladdich from 1989 that was matured in ex-bourbon as well as a number of different wine casks. It was released in 2009 with a total outturn of 6,000 bottles. In the meantime, a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th edition were released and this first edition has become quite scarce, which is why I consider myself lucky to have obtained a sample from a fellow malt maniac.
The nose starts with sweet flavours of port wine, followed by notes of rubber (but in a good way), cinnamon and a touch of balsamic vinegar. Then there is a hint of sawdust, and the whole nose turns a bit musty. Interesting. Adding water diminishes the sweetness and brings forth distinct grape flavours that complement this rather winey nose.
The palate is medium-bodied and spicy. Chocolate flavours have come to the fore, followed by cinnamon and balsamic vinegar. With water the palate loses some of its spiciness and turns mellow; the cinnamon flavours gain in intensity and are accompanied by notes of caramel.
The finish is long, warming and quite winey until the very end.
As I am a fan particularly of the 4th edition I had rather high expectation for this ‘Black Art’ expression; however this was not my cup of tea. Both nose and palate, although interesting, were very winey and in some places even a bit acidic. Overall, I missed the balance and the interplay of flavours I had observed in the later editions. But as I mentioned I was grateful to have been given the opportunity to taste this, therefore: Many thanks for the sample, Andi H.!