"Today was again not a good day, but we surely had something very tasty to try with an independently bottled surprise from Islay"
I can imagine that as an organisor of a blind tasting competition, it is quite a sport to include whiskies with characteristics that the contestents do not expect. An obvious choice is then to include something from Islay that does not have any hint of peat whatsoever. Bunnahabhain is springs directly to mind, as a heavily sherried example, and otherwise Bruichladdich. As a blind taster, you know that you have to expects these traps, but you fall into them anyway. We had today indeed a Bruichladdich that stayed very close to the distillate, which always brings joy to my tasting experience, at least when the distillate is wonderful. Based on the pale colour in my glass, I expected a, possibly young, whisky with not too much cask influence. Something else that I noticed when checking the colour, was that things were floating around. Small cask residues, so an (independent) bottler that does not perform any filtration would be logical.
Light, slightly fruity, and pure. I do not get a lot of vanilla, ginger or other evident bourbon cask influences. In fact, there are predominantly barley juice and notes of straw. It appears that the nose is still slightly muted. Water maybe? Right, now we get some more sugars (muscovado and chrystal white), some salt and some more fruits. I think I also recognise some apricots, apples and tangerines. This is getting better and better over time, so recommended to leave it in the glass for a while. Fresh fruits (more citrus now) mixed with some earth, mushrooms, cut grass and a few herbs. I would say this is a very interesting nose.
The palate is honestly pure and slightly shy. There are notes of barley, grass, and a quick sense of oranges and apricots, before those fades away. Water please! Wait there is a hint of peat far in the background. Ok, we were talking about water. This definitely improves. More complex with muesli, oatmeal, freshly cut grass, muscovado sugar, and some fruits (apples and pears). A light earthiness in the finish. I find this a very difficult one to guess. I think you need to give it some time, and some water, and then it opens up very nicely. More fresh green apples, honey, grass, a pinch of brown sugar. The finish is slightly sour with more green and citrus fruits and some fresh herbs.
My first impression was Bruichladdich, because it reminded my slightly of the Laddie Eight, but and older version. Then I started to doubt my first impression (never a good idea, mind you). Maybe it could be something from the Highlands? Balblair, Glen Ord, Glenglassaugh, all kinds of distilleries started to cross my mind. Maybe even Kilkerran? Finally I choose for Balblair. And what do you think? Bruichladdich! Right, I really should have stayed with my first impression. This is a very good whisky that proves how good the distillate from Bruichladdich is. If only they stayed away from the wine finishes in their distillery bottlings, like with the Laddie Ten…
This samples was part of the
• these are my personal views, so do not take them too seriously… nothing beats tasting these for yourself •