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Suppose that you would like something more interesting and assertive than a Speyside, but less overwhelming than tar in a bonfire. Well, Bruichladdich ROCKS is one of my favorite go-to, all-rounder malts.
ROCKS is part of the distiller’s Multi Vintage Malts seriies … per the distiller: A range of Designer Malts masterfully tailored by Jim McEwan for specific palates. From the distiller’s website, it appears that I am reviewing the “Rocks New” bottling, with the gray-scale/silver label. ROCKS has no age statement, and it is concocted from a range of several vintages, malting levels and cask types. Moreover, the component vintages are mixed together, and then further matured in French red wine casks.
The bottle label states that ROCKS is an unpeated Islay single malt with elegance and sophistication … and that it is a multi-dimensional bottling. I do agree with all of the distiller’s adjectives, but having so many other unpeated malts, if I had read the “unpeated” part in the label first, I might not have acquired it. But somehow my senses pick up an elegant and desirable balance of peat/smoke as one of the dimensions. And alas, the distiller’s website agrees with me, and claims that ROCKS is lighted peated. So stick to your noses and palates folks !
Bruichladdich bottles many expressions at 46%, which I feel adds to their potency, excitement and robustness. Most of my favorite go-to malts are bottled at 46%. ROCKS is also un-colored and un-chill-filtered, which adds a friendly dimension to it all. No water was added for this tasting.
Bottle Nose: Fairly potent deep sweetness, glue, little smokiness … very alluring.
Glass Nose: Exciting and pungent medicinal brininess and candy … maybe a bit of fruit … my kind of aroma for this type of mid-range malt … gives me that illusion of a Scottich sea.
Palate: Lively rush of deep sweet tangy, gluey, salty, then nuts and fruit, maybe a little caramel, followed by a good deal of mild almond smokiness. Very complex and balanced..
Finish: Warm medium tangy finish with a good-quality glue, and maybe cookies & vanilla, followed by a lasting aftertaste of pleasant almond smokiness.
Conclusion: ROCKS is everything I really like in medium-smoky, exciting single malt: a well-done balance of sweet effervescent tanginess and saltiness, infused with a light amount of pleasant and mild smoke. Currently I have found only three other malts in this category … can the reader think of some others ?
I am anticipating sampling the other expressions in this series, such as the WAVES, PEAT and Infinity. WAVES is said to be more highly peated, but I wonder if PEAT gets too close to the fire … at least for this mid-range category :-)
Although ROCKS would likely not be appreciated by a malty neophyte (maltyphyte?), it is a highly satisfying mid-range malt for the more seasoned explorer.
Rating 92, in this assumed category.