Water of Life - Drop Club Bruichladdich unpeated
Bruichladdich’s smoke and peat heavy Port Charlotte and especially Octomore ranges are amongst my top ten favourite expressions from the isle of Islay.
However, the progressive Hebridean distillery that was established in 1881 is channelling its alchemy in range of exquisite unpeated drops, which Melbourne’s Drop Club helped to shed light on with a virtual tasting that was hosted by the Brand Ambassador of Bruichladdich, Andy Buntine.
One of the many great things that Bruichladdich stands for is the dedication to terroir and provenance, with also manifests in their sourcing of barley, all of which stems from different regions in Scotland.
Bruichladdich’s Classic Laddie, bottled at 50% ABV is what can be considered its signature and possibly its most accessible malt, which the aromas already indicate with the melange of vanilla, berry fruits and peppery spices tingling the nostrils. What I have always liked about the Classic Laddie is that despite the pleasant flavours of vanilla, malt and fruit, there is also a trademark coastal tinge with the subtlest of smoke to remind one that it originated on Islay.
Bruichladdich’s Islay Barley 2011 is a telling name as the release series exclusively features barley sourced from six farm from the island of Islay, with the idea being that nuances will differ on a yearly basis.
Again, clocking in at 50%, the bright golden 2011 expression bring citrus, seaweed and spice grains on the nose, which seamlessly transitions to a well-balanced honeyed, lemony chocolate oily texture that is accentuated by subtle smokiness on the template.
A unique whisky that is all about showcasing terroir and a sense of place.
Now, having been an avid fan of Bruichladdich distillery, there has been one expression that had eluded me so far: The much fabled about Black Art, of which the 7.1 was to be sampled as part of this tasting.
Giving that it is a telling name in terms of being a mysterious drop that was bottled in 1994 by head distiller Adam Hannett, who kept mum about the details about which casks were used – a novum for a distillery that prides itself on being overly transparent, claiming that I was giddy with excitement would be an understatement par excellence.
Bottled at a natural cask strength of 48.4%, the aroma is already fantastic: There is a delicate sweetness reminiscent of stone fruits, which appears to be derived from sherry casks mixed with nutty richness, cacao and liquorice.
What was promised on the nose, fully unveils its complexities on the palate in the most viscous manner and is complemented by oak, orange, wet tobacco leaves, cinnamon, coconut and nutmeg, carried by a sublime spiciness.
The elongated finish leaves me drooling as an idiosyncratic Islay coastal saltiness blends in with coffee and leathery notes.
A drop that embodies everything that is great about Bruichladdich yet adds dimensions that are not present in any of the other expressions and the perfect ending for a fantastic tasting organised by the Drop Club.
image from Drop Club website (linked)