By Kurt Maitland
The Bruichladdich distillery is found on the north shore of Loch Indaal, Islay, and once upon a time that location made it the most westerly distillery in Scotland, until the Kilchoman distillery was built in 2005. The distillery on Indaal was originally constructed in 1881 by Robert William and John Gourlay Harvey. The Harvey family remained the owners until the mothballing of the distillery in 1929.
The distillery reopened in 1936, and is currently owned by Remy Cointreau. Bruichladdich gets its water from a spring on the Octomore farm, which gives its name to some of the peatiest whiskies known to any whisky connoisseur (but those are reviews for another day). The distillery is equipped two wash stills and two spirit stills, and produces 1,500,000 liters of spirit a year.
The Bruichladdich house style created by their now retired Master Distiller Jim McEwan is one of light to medium bodied whiskies that are well-crafted, with hints of the salty sea air that lies so close to the distillery. This particular release has been created with 100% Scottish barley and is matured in American oak casks to represent the classic, unpeated distillery style that can be rare on Islay.
Color: White Gold
Nose: A full, fruity nose, with whiffs of toffee and a hint of nuttiness
Taste: Like the Bunnahabhain 12, this release is not one of those peaty whiskies that Islay is known for. The distilleries on Islay, or “Whisky Island” as it has been dubbed in the media, have a many different flavor profiles beyond those of the Ardbegs, Laphroaigs and Lagavulins.
The body is slick, viscous and tangy, indicating a flavor as full as the nose would have you believe. The Classic Laddie is lush and meaty but in a different style to its peaty neighbors. Here stone fruits dominate the proceedings and the presence of a hint of sea salt never lets you forget that this expression was born on an island. The mix of the sweetness, full body and high proof combine to make for a masterful pour from this (NAS) whiskey, bottled at 50% abv.
The finish gets a little minty and the water does not diminish the pepperiness of this release. In fact, it makes it a little longer.
Finish: The finish on this expression goes from salty and sweet, to spicy and a little nutty fairly quickly. The spiciness lasts long but it’s also sweeter than you might expect from an Islay release.
In the US this release can run between $48 and $55 dollars, while in the UK £42 is more typical. It is an excellent release that shows off the craft that Jim McEwan brought to the table during his time at Bruichladdich and the reason he will be missed.