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Bruichladdich, pretty vertical

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RikS started a discussion

Yesterday got together with Abi, brand ambassador for Bruichladdich, and a few other friends and clients at one of my favorite whisky shops in London for a bit of tasting and banter. Won't do any comprehensive review now, but thought I'd share a few notes and observations -

Bruichladdich Classic laddie: the iconic turquoise bottle. 50% ABV. It's nice... but that's about it I think. Pretty non-offensive, barley sweetness, pretty warming and... ok. Steal the white pepper from a Talisker and replace it with non-sherry sweetness, was what came to my mind. I would be glad if someone gifted it to me, but I wouldn't buy it. B

Bruichladdich Islay barley (unpeated, not to be confused with the peated Port Charlotte with the same denomination): Now, this is a different cattle of fish. A lot more sweet/savory than the Classic. Despite being the same ABV, this one felt like the former, but with the volume increased quite a bit. Pretty oily and nice viscosity - take this one any day over the Classic. Long lingering salt on the finish, but more finely ground salt a la Talisker, rather than coarse salt a la Kilkerran.

Bruichladdich Bere barley: I like the story of the Bere barley strain, being the oldest there is. But, taste wise, this one wasn't for me. Strong similarities with the previous two, but a lot more husky / farmy notes and less sweetness and intensity than the Islay barley. So far, islay barley is still the best.

Port Charlotte 10: Essentially, islay barley with smoke and peat. However, I noted it as a rather different peat than I have so far... whereas I'd say Caol Ila is dry soot... Ardbeg is wet smoke... and Lagavulin is more medicinal and TCP-ish than smokey, with this I really understand what people mean when they speak of a smoldering campfire. Heck, you could see the bright red smoldering of the charcoal. I'd put this one on par with the islay barley in terms of the experience, up to you if you wanna go with the smoky or non-smoky experience. Quite a long finish with that lingering salty sweetness...

Port Charlotte MRC:01: Oh, WOW! I tried this once before it was officially out and was impressed, and the same last night. Bourbon cask and wine cask, and then finished for 12 months in Chateau Mount Rothchild casks. Enters gently... and then literally explodes in taste. Complex, with lots going on. Sweet, pretty tannic on the palate, moving into a finish that maintains the sweetness, and then hits you with the tannins.... a lot! Like sucking on a lemon and then having a spoonful of peanut butter, followed by wiping the inside of your mouth with kitchen paper. Oh, well, I might have wished it a bit less tannic, but still the best so far of the drams sampled.

Octomore 9.1.: the disappointment of the evening. Is it bad? No, it is not. It is a very young bourbon matured expression (5 years) served up at cask strength with some serious alco-burn, and more than a little smoky (167ppm if I recall, vs the PC's 40ppm (Ardbeg I believe is around 50-55, and Laphroaig 30-35). So, yes, ok... interesting and not bad. But no way I'd ever fork out £130 for this.

Octomore 10 Dialogos: Oh.... I see... NOW I understand what's the big deal here with the Octomores. This one was pretty fantastic. Thick, oily without being syrupy. Intensely smokey, without overshadowing the complex mix of wine, cognac and bourbon casks. Cask strength, but not hot like the 9.1. It's still pretty costly at around £150, but if you want to splurge but make sure you get an experience corresponding to your investment, I'd say this one comes pretty close! Best of the evening, followed by MRC:01.

Finally, a dram (well, not really, more like a big sip) of the islay barley base distillate. Pretty drinkable in fact, if anything reminded me of the Brazilian cachaca 'Pitu' with which I made frequent acquaintance when I lived in Rio!

that was a LONG post, send a message for more details and taste notes if so desires.

3 months ago

5 replies

Victor replied

@RikS what a nice and informative presentation. Thank you. I learned a lot. I am just about sold on buying a bottle of Bruichladdich Islay Barley. I am still working through a bottle of 'Scottish Barley'.

Why be surprised that you liked the new make spirit? New make spirit is frequently delicious. The better the new make the better the whisky.

3 months ago 3Who liked this?

RikS replied

@Victor I think you will like it. Nice addition to my cabinet as well as the pc10. A bit sad I didn’t have a chance to compare with the pc Islay barley.

And cudos to the lads at royal mile whisky who actually discounted the evenings puchase with the cost of the tasting ticket, meaning that the Bruichladdich Islay barley was £29!

3 months ago 1Who liked this?


Thanks for the write-up! I really like the Scottish Barley (turquoise bottle) as a "baseline" reference. There's plenty of nutty, barley flavour and a little honey, citrus and brine. It's not a whisky that puts me over the moon, but it is one I've purchased repeatedly. The MRC:01 sounds fantastic.

3 months ago 2Who liked this?

RikS replied

@OdysseusUnbound Thank you, that's exactly what I tried. I find it easier to get a sense of taste when 'relative' so I did actually keep the classic as a 'reference' throughout the evening and then nosed and tasted back and forth. For example, the Octomore 9.1. wasn't THAT smokey on the nose to be honest... but when I nosed it against the PC10, then I could detect a markable difference.

3 months ago 3Who liked this?

Nock replied

Bruichladdich has really been growing on me for the past year or two. There was a time when the only thing I was interested in from them was the Octomore.

Now I am in love Port Charlotte. It really does it a very nice middle ground between the unpeated Laddie style and the heavily peated Octomore.

I have really grown to love any of the Islay barley versions. The Bruichladdich Islay barley, the Port Charlotte and the Octomore 8.3 are all extremely fantastic whiskies in their own right.

I would love to get my hands on a bottle of the Port Charlotte MRC:01 . . . it sounds right up my alley. Thanks for sharing! I am jealous

3 months ago 1Who liked this?

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@NockW@KRB80@fiddich1980@OdysseusUnbound + 1 others

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