COVID has completely changed the way we normally live our lives. Checking my email one morning last week I noticed Norfolk Wine and Spirits put together a Bruichladdich tasting. Was this another Zoom meeting with samples? Because, if you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all! HOWEVER, this one was in person (socially distanced of course) but still a chance to enjoy a night out and drink some great whiskies. We signed up immediately!
Before I get into it, a couple years ago Jim and I had the pleasure of visiting the Bruichladdich Distillery in Islay and we both felt that this distillery was magical. You can read that blog post, here.
This tasting was held at a small Indian restaurant called The Curry House, which is about 45 minutes southwest of Boston in Franklin, MA. Joined via Zoom was Brand Ambassador Jason Cousins. For $50 we sampled nine whiskies, along with naan, samosas and skewered lamb presented on a charcuterie plate that included more delicious Indian Cuisine treats. We also enjoyed a healthy sample of Black Arts. Bikram, the owner of Norfolk Wine and Spirits and tonight’s host was kind enough to share from his private stash which, according to Jason, Bruichladdich will no longer produce after this year. We’ve heard that before about Black Arts, however.
Everyone had to wear masks until we reached our socially distant tables. Cousins took a moment to go over the distillery itself as well as other news on the island. He shared that an arms race is brewing on Islay as multiple distilleries have bought farms or started to do business with local farmers to grow Islay barley for their whiskies instead of importing barley from the Inverness region. He also shared a fun fact; their Warehouse 16 is called the Vatican because it houses all their best Vintages.
Finally, I need to thank Bruichladdich for having maybe the best whisky website out there. The amount of information they provide not only about the distillery, but about each and every bottle is pretty darn fantastic. A lot of distillers are catching on about the importance of an informative website but none, in my opinion, have matched the folks at Bruichladdich.
Below you will find a list of what we tasted along with their notes.
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie: This was our starter whisky. It’s unpeated and it’s matured in American and French oak casks.
Nose: Citrus, honey and wood
Palate: Green fruit, brown sugar and sweet malt
Finish: Warm and smooth
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011: Single Vintage, meaning when it’s gone, it’s gone. It’s aged for 6 year and is matured in Ex-Bourbon American Bourbon Casks and Ex-Wine European Casks.
Nose: vanilla, grapefruit and caramel
Palate: caramel, honey, citrus and apricots
Finish: citrus and caramel
Black Art 1994 08.1 Aged 26 Year: Let me be honest, this is my favorite of the lot. We got a chance to try this on this evening and it was delicious. I’ve also had the chance to try the 4.1 edition and you can read more about that one here.
Nose: honey, vanilla and hazelnut
Palate: citrus, toasted oak, caramel and fruit
Finish: hazelnut, chocolate and caramel
THE PEATED: Peat haters should stop reading now as the rest are heavily peated and are absolutely amazing.
We were meant to try the Port Charlotte 10 Year, but sadly they didn’t have this one. The upside, I’ve already written about this whisky. You can read about the 2nd Edition, here.
Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2011: Matured in Ex-Bourbon American Bourbon Casks and Ex-Wine European Casks
Nose: lemon, chocolate and peaches
Palate: smoke, pepper, salt and apples
Finish: smoke and wood
Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2012: Matured in Ex-Bourbon American Bourbon Casks and Ex-Wine European Casks.
Nose: vanilla, peat, apples and barley
Palate: salt, pepper, peat, chocolate and vanilla
Finish: smoke and salt
Phenol Level: 40PPM
Port Charlotte OLC:01 2010: Matured in Ex-Bourbon American Bourbon Casks and Ex-Wine European Casks.
Nose: oranges, coffee and salt
Palate: pepper, smoke, fruit and tobacco
Finish: smoke, chocolate and vanilla
Phenol Level: 40PPM
*I’ve previously tasted and written about the Octomore 6.1 and you can read about that here.
Octomore 11.1 Aged 5 Years: Matured in previously fill Jim Bean, Heaven Hill and Jack Daniels Casks
Nose: malt, honey, spices and wood
Palate: brown sugar, toffee, vanilla and oak
Finish: vanilla, spices and a bonfire in your mouth
Phenol Level: 139.6PPM
Octomore 11.3 Aged 5 Years: Matured in previously fill Jim Bean, Heaven Hill, Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace Casks
Nose: honey, vanilla and citrus
Palate: honey, oranges, apricots and fruit
Finish: smoke, grass and malt
Phenol Level: 194PPM
Octomore 10 Year 4th Edition: Matured in previously fill Jim Bean, Heaven Hill, Jack Daniels and Buffalo Trace Casks
Nose: vanilla, nuts and smoke
Palate: fruit, honey and smoke
Finish: vanilla, tobacco, salt and smoke
Phenol Level: 208PPM
Overall, my favorite of the lot was the Black Art 1994 08.1 Aged 26 Year, as I mentioned above. The peated whisky are heavily peated so anyone that doesn’t like the taste of peat smoke, should definitely avoid those. For those like me, who enjoys a fireplace in my mouth, then you are going to love them. Peated whiskies are my go to whiskies in the winter. They have a way of warming my heart and soul.
Note: The contents on my blog are solely my opinion. To me every palate is different! Although I may or may not like a product, I always recommend for people to try it and make up their own minds.