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Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2004

Sunshine in a Bottle

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@EvaReesReview by @EvaRees

13th Aug 2012


  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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Distribution of ratings for this: brand user

Bruichladdich's plan with this bottle is to showcase terroir and provenance. All the "Chalice" barley used for this expression is grown a mile from the distillery, harvested in September 2004 and distilled in December. This experiment resulted in 6000 bottles, which are aged 6 years in oak.

On the nose: Grass, various meadow plants crushed underfoot. Zesty citrus in the form of grapefruit and lemon candies. Fresh with undeniable warmth.

On the palate: So creamy and soft. Buttery, and appropriately very barley forward. The first sip is forceful, attention-grabbing — it is a young bottling after all. I find this dram likes to sway between reduced citrus candies and minerals, but always with a consistent light custard sweetness. Very light body; a daytime dram.

Finish: Somewhat short, but not surprisingly so. It is a warming malt, but not a hot one, even at the higher ABV. Pepper on the finish, along with almost effervescent minerals.

Overall, a very light malt. I can think of a handful of soft, buttery whiskies which are superior. I consider this more "academic enjoyment" than a fantastic dram, hence my score.

Curiously, this is one of the most unstable bottles in my cabinet — never been quite the same twice. Its major shortcoming is a lithe body which doesn't stand a chance when paired with most foods, or other malts. If we pull this bottle out while doing a tasting, it'll be the starter.

I'm glad to have bought this, and hope to save the last few drams to compare with the newer 2006 Islay Barley release. I'm a sucker for the premise behind the whisky, and I think it's a successful experiment. Barley varieties add tremendous range to the spirits we enjoy, but standardized product from major farms is winning out over more finicky barley varieties, which need more attention to grow. I'm glad someone is going to bat on this front.

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Wills commented

Wow this seems to be a special one. Hope they keep doing experiments like this in the future under new flag too.

Thx for the nice review Eva

9 years ago 0

Victor commented

Thank you for a very nice review, @EvaRees. Very informative. I have long thought that not enough attention is paid to the differences in barley strains used in the malt whiskies. (and not enough attention is paid also to the great differences in the Quality of the various peats used in malts.)Please keep the quality writing coming!

9 years ago 0

EvaRees commented

@Victor I've been outright shocked at the difference barley strains can make on the finished spirit. I brew beer at home and should know better! I surely undervalued the influence. It is somewhat rare for a distillery to create malts intended to showcase this range, so I like to try them when I can. What with the current corn crisis, I've been reading quite a few interesting things about our American industry, and their commitment to high-quality grains. I'm glad to read that certain distillers are so far refusing to use GMO corn, for instance. It could turn into a bit of an interesting stretch in the bourbon world as the market responds to shortages.

9 years ago 0

DaveWorthington commented

Thanks for this great review @EvaRees, I just bought a bottle of this which was delivered yesterday. I won the proof plate for this Whisky from the distillery a couple of months ago, so wanted to have the Whisky to go with it. Looking forward to sampling it this weekend.

9 years ago 0

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