A word in your ear: look at the bottle. Look at it. Isn’t that design beautiful? Isn’t it so contemporary, bold yet elegant? It is made by Bruichladdich, who consider themselves to be Progressive Hebridean Distillers. Quite right, too: I’ve been following their blog for a while, and it’s refreshing, it’s progressive. They take no prisoners. They say things you think companies ought not to say. They turn whisky into biogas. They are their own people, and I respect their outlook very much. It would have been a shame if the first whisky of theirs I tried did not have the chops to back up that sentiment, but, oh my, it did…
At first, what a colour – a sort of ruby-esque, sunset Pimms; like no other whisky I’ve seen yet (that’ll be those Tempranillo casks?). On the nose: gentle smoke fires, treacle, sultanas, touch of Christmas cake, maybe even vanilla, just a touch of red wine, then on the back end something more savoury, perhaps a pastry, or a cheese. It’s a distinctive, pervasive aroma. Some whiskies you need to stick your nose in the glass; some you put the glass on the side and let the smell come to you. This is very much the latter.
On the mouth, it’s really beautiful, not too oily, not too dry, just a kind of pleasant, balanced middle ground. This is strong, 50% stuff, yet it’s not harshly overpowering. It’s blissful. Wonderful sweet malts, what an unusual experience and with a tangy, peppery aftertaste. There are all sorts of things going on here, and none of them dominate the palette. Surprised that the smoke wasn’t there as much as I thought it’d be, but the rest of the flavours more than make up for it – or perhaps that should be that the flavours balance it. All in all, it reminds me of the Glenfarclas 15, somehow, but there is more of that rugged, Islay spirit here.
If I were to have a solid, dependable bottle to pour for visitors and say to them Stop what you’re doing, relax and take this seriously, then I have found such a bottle. It’s very reasonably priced at around £45, too.
For any newcomers wondering why a writer is reviewing whisky, see here. It’s all necessary.