Water of Life – Bladnoch x Boilermaker House collaboration
If you follow this series, you would notice that the term “boilermaker” makes frequent appearances. Pretty simple in nature as far as the concept is concerned, in essence and in this context, it usually refers to the pairing of a brew with a dram of whisk(e)y.
Word around the campfire has that etymologically “boilermaker” has its origins in blue collar workers looking for a liquid bookend to a long, hard day of work, however, there are other amusing anecdotes that people see as the reason for the name, one of which includes the negligence of a locomotive operator whose indulgence was blamed for the steam powered vehicle to catch fire.
Whatever it may be and however you enjoy it, the beer and whisk(e)y pairing is a damn fine combo in my book – as long as you refrain from the abomination that is to drop the dram into the beer.
Given my preference, I was quite delighted to see the opening of watering hole in Melbourne whose telling name “Boilermaker House” indicated that their focus was firmly set on refining the art of pairing brews with the water of life. I got even more excited when I learned about Boilermaker House’s endeavours to collaborate directly with distilleries to bottle their own expressions.
In Boilermaker House’s case, a collaboration with Bladnoch was natural, as the southernmost Scottish distillery, which is named after its water source the Bladnoch river, is Australian owned.
The expression that was agreed on became the limited Bladnoch x Boilermaker House Select Cask 18-Year-Old, which had Bladnoch’s Master Distiller Dr Nick Savage hand select the what was proffered to the Boilermaker House team in a private tasting.
Clocking in at 48.3%ABV, the aromas already hint at the impact the maturation in Muscatel casks had in the maturation process, as what stings the nostrils is pervaded by fruity sweetness with syrupy highlights.
What materializes on the palate is a seamless continuation of what the nose promised, however, things get interesting as the nuances of stewed fruit rest on a foundation of oaky caramel, which adds depth and character.
The elongated finish is an exercise par excellence in well-calibrated sweetness reminiscent of dried fruits, cinnamon and more caramel.
In a bid to compliment Boilermaker House’s exclusive bottling, they developed their own limited brew with the name being a pun on the collaboration, i.e. “Noch Out”. While the name might suggest a heavy hitter, the reality could not be more different as the beer is a finely refined melange of citrus, stouty chocolatey notes and a freshness imbued by Amarillo hops. The kicker and what makes Noch Out the predestined companion to Bladnoch’s 18 Year Old Select Cask is the addition of interesting spices like cardamom, wormwood and liquorice root, which aid in not only complementing the flavours of the whisky but create an interactive crescendo of cross-pollinating flavours with every sip yielding a differently coloured result.
With Bladnoch Distillery having over two hundred years under its belt, it is not further wondrous that they have a well-distinguished portfolio of core expressions, which should offer something for any aficionado.
In a bid to appeal to a younger crowd, Bladnoch reinvented itself and now complements their core range with two new blended Scotch whiskies.
Based on a foundation of aged grain whiskies, the newly incepted Pure Scot Blended Scotch Whisky range is taking the DNA of what has firmly been established as Bladnoch and blends it with drops from the Speyside, Highland and Islay regions, the latter of which makes it particularly interesting for me.
The relatively low ABV of 40%ABV already indicated that this is an everyday sipper, an impression reinforced by the charming vanilla and butterscotch aromas that much to my delight are topped off with the most subtle hint of smoke.
Malt is prominent on the roof of the mouth, with welcome nuance of peat that trail off via detours into stone fruit and spicy, gingery territory.
I would not call the finish elongated; however, it has its moments as it continues what was first promised on the palate with nuances of hazelnut.
An edition to the portfolio that makes sense and cements that Bladnoch knows what they are doing when it comes to channelling their alchemy of distilling.