Archive for the ‘Bruichladdich’ Category

Here’s a new press release from Bruichladdich announcing the release of Organic 2003 “Culblair Farm” edition, with a UK Retail price of £39. It’s bottled at 46%, and there will be 15,000 bottles made available. It says “Anns An T-seann Doigh” on the label, which is Gaelic for “in the traditional way.” All of the barley used is Scottish grown, with 50% produced at 15 farms on Islay. I’m not completely sure what to make of this one, but it will be interesting to see the reviews.

Would the fact that it’s organic and uses Scottish-grown (and lots of Islay-grown) barley influence your buying decision?

Organic Developments for Islay Distiller

The first ever organic Islay single malt whisky has been released to coincide with the opening of a new island barley facility for farmers and Bruichladdich distillery.

Bruichladdich has released the world’s first organic Islay single malt whisky on the day the Hebridean island’s first grain facility opened  – in time for this year’s barley harvest.

This is the ultimate “single”, single malt (single farm, harvest, variety and vintage) distilled from Chalice barley grown by William Rose at Culblair in summer of 2003.

This first organic bottling represents the direction Bruichladdich has been going since it was reopened in 2001. Unparalleled Scottish provenance, quality, variety and traceability.

Duncan McGillivray, manager of the privately-owned distillery, said: “it’s the way is used to be – ultimate authenticity – real people, real places, real character. That’s what we’re about”

All Bruichladdich whisky is naturally bottled at the distillery in the island’s only bottling hall at 46% alc/vol with Islay spring water – chill-filtration and colouring-free.

The Octofad facility (weighbridge, unloading area, drying house and storage) means each of the 15 Islay farm’s harvests can be kept separate until ready for malting later in the year.

“Being able to dry our barley “off the field” makes harvesting logistics less frantic, less risky and more efficient. With the current poor weather it is not a moment too soon”

“Environmentally too, by trucking one load of ‘green’ barley to the maltings at Bairds, and returning with one load of ‘malted’ barley means less of a footprint.”

“We’re very proud; it’s the culmination of a great team effort. People thought we were mad, perhaps we are, but the taste makes it all worth while; the proof is in the pudding.”

Bruichladdich Organic 2003

Bruichladdich Organic 2003

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Hot on the heals heels [Doh!] of the Port Charlotte PC8 release, Mark Reynier has sent out this press release for Infinity 3. This is another multi-vintage release, like the 3D3 that I recently reviewed. It’s bottled at 50%, and is said to have a slightly higher peating level than the Infinity 2 release, which I believe was in the 18-20 ppm range. So this is not going to be as peaty as the 3D3, and certainly not as peaty as PC8, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Just different. I’m back to wanting a nice sampler of these latest Bruichladdich releases. 🙂

If you happen upon this page and have tried either of the first two Infinity releases, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

To Infinity and Beyond

Infinity was created to showcase the great length of palate associated with Bruichladdich. This bottling, the third in the series, makes the ideal digestif.

Jim McEwan, Bruichladdich’s head distiller, started his whisky career 45 years ago as a cooper rising to be master of that trade; he knows all there is to know about casks.

That knowledge, together with his renown distilling experience, has led to the creation of Infinity 3, from casks specifically chosen out of over 35,000 maturing in our warehouses.

Quercus Alba, better known as American oak, is the standard for Bourbon production then whisky aging.  But unusually, in this case, the association is not US but entirely with Spain.

Only Spanish grown Quercus Alba – refill Sherry and Ribero (tempranillo) casks – were used for this multi-vintage Bruichladdich, drawn from several ages, styles and peat levels.

The peatiness has been upped slightly over the two original bottlings, stocks of which are now exhausted. This is a general release, stocks are expected to last until 2011/12.

The brief for this decidedly personal cuvée was to produce a complex, multi-layered malt with a provocatively infinite finish: the ideal digestif dram – mellow, rich, spice and fruit.

Infinity 3 - Multi-vintage release

Infinity 3 - Multi-vintage release

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Press release from Bruichladdich

This just came from Mark Reynier at Bruichladdich. I was impressed with Bruichladdich 3D3 (bottled in 2006) in my recent review, but thought it was a wee bit youthful. This just might be the peated Bruichladdich to win me over, and it’s available now from major online UK retailers. So tempting…

PC8 Wins By a Royal Mile

PC8 wins the ‘Spirit of Whisky Fringe’ award.

The annual Whisky Fringe tasting, organised by Royal Mile Whiskies, took place last weekend at the old church of Mansfield Traquair during the Edinburgh Festival.

Around 200 whiskies were available for tasting by members of the public and all visitors were given the chance to vote for their favourite spirit tasted over the weekend.

PC8, heavily peated Bruichladdich to the tune of 40 ppm’s worth, was voted by the general public as the Spirit of Whisky Fringe 2009, and awarded the trophy.

Bruichladdich has been well received by Edinburgh’s whisky fans. In the last three years it has won this trophy twice and came second once.

This achievement was all the more impressive as this 8 year old whisky was up against contenders that were considerably older, in some cases four times the age.

PC8 is the fourth and final release in the dramatic 6 tin image series. The picture tins, having featured the distiller, his team, Islay people, now showcase Islay’s heritage.

Ar Duthchas”, land of our fathers, portrays landmarks from Islay’s remote Rhinns peninsula, celebrating Mans’ long presence, the tangible heritage, of this special isle.

PC8, bottled on islay at 60.5%  should be compared to previous bottlings PC5, PC6 and PC7 that were rated at 95, 96 and 96.5 in the 2009 Whisky Bible by Jim Murray.

Port Charlote PC8 - Whisky Fringe award winner

Port Charlote PC8 - Whisky Fringe award winner

PC8 - Six tin designs

PC8 - Six tin designs

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Bruichladdich 3D3

Bruichladdich 3D3


In my attempt to remain a Stage 3 single malt fanatic, and not progress to Stage 4, I’m turning my focus more to whisky samples as a means of discovery. My local Bevmo recently stocked a 3-pack Bruichladdich sampler, containing 50 ml bottles of Rocks, Links and 3D3. I’ve tried Bruichladdich 15 year and thought it was “nice”, but I was really interested in trying these other expressions to see if they’re more interesting. Rocks and 3D3 are part of the “Multi Vintage” line of Bruichladdich malts, while the Links series is part of their “Special” line.

Bruichladdich [brook-laddie] 3D3 (third edition of 3D), released in 2006, is a single malt bottled at 46% and vatted from three different aged malts. The very first Octomore (peated at 80.5 ppm) is one of the three, making this the highest peated version of the 3D series at about 40 ppm. Port Charlotte is the other peated malt in this mix.

Note: 3D3 has been replaced by the “Peat” expression in the Bruichladdich lineup. Apparently they’ve toned down the peating level to 35 parts per million.

Tasting notes

On first nosing, I got a pretty strong “pure peat” presence, along with apples and vanilla. There’s also a cereal grain element that reminds me of some other young peated expressions I’ve tried. On second try, there’s more fruit than just apples, and it’s sweeter. It’s kind of like a mixed fruit cup.

The palate starts soft, then builds to big peat and pepper. I really like this! Take a good sized drink and it really coats the mouth nicely.

On the finish, lots of smoke and peat come up through the nostrils. Like you’re standing over a camp fire. The pepper fades fairly quickly, but the smoke lingers for a while, as long as you take a good mouthful (my first small sip disappeared quickly). I do get a little bit of an aftertaste (hay, maybe?) that I think is coming from the younger malt in this mix, and that kind of sours the great peat/smoke experience.


After my first dram, I described it as tasting like a young Ardbeg. After the second dram, with the additional sweetness and fruits coming out, it reminds me more of the BenRiach peated and finished 12 year releases. What’s special about 3D3 is the way it hits the palate fairly softly, then builds. It’s huge peat, but it doesn’t beat you over the head with it. The guys at whisky-pages.com note that Jim McEwen, the Bruichladdich master distiller, calls the 3D3 “potent, but not aggressive.” I think that’s a great way of describing it.

At $50, I’d buy a full size bottle of this. At the $70 it’s going for locally, I think my bottle of BenRiach Arumaticus Fumosus will satisfy the same craving, but without the minor “off” notes that I’m attributing to some of the youth in the 3D3. I’m putting Bruichladdich peated expressions on my watch list, though. I think they’re really on to something here with the way the peat hits the palate. I hope to buy a sample of Port Charlotte PC8 this year and compare that to my 3D3 experience. I’d say 83/100 points for this one, with the potential for other Bruichladdich peated expressions to go much higher.

Other opinions

  • WhiskyNotes.be – Great notes as always from Ruben. He also notes some youthful roughness, but gives it a good overall rating. He has a great description of the 3D3 “recipe” at the top of his post. Also read his Port Charlotte PC6 review for a comparison to 3D3.
  • whisky-pages – Good notes, good review, and that quote from Jim McEwen. A good read.
  • WHISKYFUN.COM by Serge – A great rating of 88 points. He’s obviously not bothered by the youthful aspects of this dram.

Quick Take

Laddie 3D3 Quick Take

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Octomore 2 (140 ppm)

Octomore 2 (140 ppm)

I got an email from Mark Reynier at Bruichladdich this morning with the Octomore 2 press release that’s already been posted all over the blogosphere. Cool…am I “press” now? 🙂

Anyway, it was interesting timing, as I just tried Bruichladdich 3D3, the peated bottling from a couple of years ago that contains the first ever Octomore (vatted with Port Charlotte and some standard Laddie). I really like the 3D3, which reminds me quite a bit of Ardbeg. It’s got a lot of smoke and peat, but somehow delivers it in a way that doesn’t bowl you over. Check out this Singlemalt.tv video with Jim McEwan, where he talks about the process of making Octomore. It gives a little more background on how they achieve the “iron fist in a velvet glove” delivery described below in the press release.

I used to think Octomore was nothing but a marketing gimmick. It might very well be a marketing gimmick to a certain extent, but having tasted 3D3 and seen that Jim McEwan video, I’m now kind of intrigued by the release. Plus, I admit that I am a sucker for the cool looking bottle. However, what I’d really like to do is compare Bruichladdich Peat (replacement for 3D3), Port Charlotte PC7, and Octomore side-by-side to see how the PC and Octomore influence the Peat release. I’m just not so sure about paying $400 to do it. Wouldn’t it be great if Bruichladdich offered a reasonably priced sampler pack containing these three expressions? Maybe 100 ml samples like Glenmorangie does with their sample pack. Even better…include a sample of a “standard” Bruichladdich, and let us experiment with our own vatting!

The World’s Peatiest Whisky Just Got Peatier

Octomore  is now 7%  more peaty than the inaugural 2008 record-breaker.

The peatiness, at 140 ppm (parts per million) in the original malted barley, gives this whopper a huge peat smoke punch, almost 30% more than its nearest rival to the title.

It is referred to as ‘the iron fist in a velvet glove’ owing to the whisky’s surprisingly subtle charms, and is distilled at Islay’s Bruichladdich Distillery by head distiller Jim McEwan:

“It’s a great equation: massive peat + Bruichladdich elegance = awesome spirit. We dialed up the peating level of this 2nd bottling of Octomore because it seemed churlish not to.”

“But Octomore is not for the feint-hearted. At this peating level it is for savouring; a little goes an awful long way. Taste with minimal water to appreciate and share in its evolution.”

“Dr Riffkin, Tatlock & Thompson’s analyst that certified the whisky, told me: “this is the highest peating level we have ever seen – by miles.”

Another slice of Octomore anyone?

Notes for Editors:

Distributed in the UK by Blavod, 202 Fulham Road, London SW10 9PJ – contact: rambler@blavodextreme.com or Phyllis Taylor 0207 3522096  Exports: Andrew Gray andrew@bruichladdich.com

Peat smoke was traditionally used to arrest by desiccation the germination of malting barley to provide fermentable sugars.

Octomore is an Islay single malt distilled at Bruichladdich distillery annually since 2003.

Octomore 2009 bottling was distilled from barley that measured 140 ppm parts per million of total phenols in the original malted barley by the industry standard method of HPLC.

The certificate of analysis of the Octomore 2009 bottled whisky by Tatlock & Thompson Scientific Services is available for inspection at Bruichladdich Distillery.

15,000 numbered bottles are available worldwide at cask strength.

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A pour from a Bruichladdich 15 mini

A pour from a Bruichladdich 15 mini

I was at my local liquor store, and I mentioned to an employee that I had never tried Bruichladdich [brook-laddie].  He pointed me to the 15 year and talked about how it was finished in Sauternes wine casks.  Then he mentioned that they just got some 50 ml miniatures of it in stock.  Cool, a chance to try it without full commitment!  At home, I was reading the tiny print on the bottle and canister, looking for mention of the casks.  I couldn’t find any. The bottle did state that this whisky is bottled at 46%, and the canister points out that that it’s not chill-filtered or artificially colored. Sounds good so far.

Looking online, I discovered that the Bruichladdich 15 year “Second Edition” is the one that is finished in Sauternes casks.  What I had in my hand was a miniature of the first edition Bruichladdich 15.  This one is a vatting of 85% whisky from American Oak casks, and 15% from Spanish Oak casks.  I’m guessing they got a pretty good deal on these from the distributer.  I checked back at the store the next day, and it is indeed the Second Edition full size bottle that they have in stock (it says Second Edition on the bottle).  Oh well, it’s still a chance for me to get my first taste of a Bruichladdich.  Let’s take this outdated mini for a spin…

Tasting notes

On the nose, I’m getting some light winey notes (white wine, not sherry), and a lemon, floral mix.  Something else is there that I want to call a pine scent.  Not real pine, necessarily, but the artificial pine scent you might find in air fresheners or cleaners. If I leave my nose in the glass a while, I feel like there is some vanilla as well.

On the palate, it reminds me of semi-sweet melon, and then some peppery spice comes through.  It’s pretty light weight, though.  The finish?  Not much of one…the pepper lingers for a very short period, and it seems a little salty.  Then it all quickly disappears.

Conclusion: I’ve read the distillery notes, and a couple of reviews now, and they mention a “fresh” scent/taste with the Bruichladdich 15.  I don’t know what “fresh” tastes or smells like, though.  Is it that pine scent I was picking up?  To me, this malt is very ordinary.  The nose is Ok, but doesn’t really pull me in.  It’s very easy on the palate; nothing offensive there, but then it’s quickly gone and forgotten.  It IS very drinkable.  I could move right through quite a few ml of this stuff without really thinking about it.  It’s just not something I want to sit with in the evening and savor. I find it very average.

At $40, I think this would be a great daily drinker, or perhaps something light and easy on a summer afternoon.  However, at the current price of $85 (if you can find it), I just don’t see it.  At that price, I’m going to turn to a number of other single malts before this one.  I’m not in any way turned off of Bruichladdich, and I’m curious about their peated offerings, I’m just not going to extend myself to get a bottle.

Other opinions (and distillery info)

I wasn’t able to find a whole lot of information on this first edition of the 15 year.  A number of the reviews I found were for the second edition. Here are a couple of links, though:

  • Whisky Magazine – Notes and ratings by Michael Jackson and Dave Broom.  There are also links to some forum threads on this expression further down the page.
  • Royal Mile Whiskies – Not for sale anymore, but there are some tasting notes.
  • Bruichladdich Product Sheet (PDF) – A link to the company product sheet for Bruichladdich 15.

Bruichladdich Distillery location

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