Monday, October 13, 2014

Whisky Review: Bladnoch Lightly Peated 11 Year/2002 for K&L

This was one of three casks of Bladnoch that were bottled directly by the distillery for K&L Wines - the first OB Bladnochs available in the US. Sadly it was not long after they arrived that Bladnoch announced that it was going into receivership (bankruptcy) and that it will be sold off.

This whisky comes from malt that was peated to about 15 PPM (a touch above Springbank, but a bit below Talisker or Highland Park) that was distilled in 2002, aged in a single bourbon cask (#303) for 11 years, then bottled at 51.5% ABV without chill filtration or coloring.

For a different take on this whisky, see Sku's Recent Eats.

Thanks to MAO for a sample of this whisky.

Bladnoch Lightly Peated 11 Year/2002 for K&L

Nose: solid bourbon cask malt notes of fresh grain, rich caramel, light fruit/berry esters, raisins, grass/hay, light vanilla and woody spices, and something a bit floral, which are offset by new make with very light earthy/rubbery peat. After adding a few drops of water, the caramel, wood, and fruit/raisin notes integrate into a wonderful whole and the new make and peat retreating significantly.

Taste: soft and rounded malt sweetness throughout, fruit/berry/floral overtones that shift along the palate, sliding into green new make notes, dank peat, and mild bittersweet oak. After dilution, the palate becomes more barrel-influenced and balanced, with the fruit (raisin especially) and oak notes expanding as counterpoint to the malt sweetness, while the wood and peat integrate more harmoniously at the back (though this does lose something in terms of nuance), and a touch of barbecue pops out, though the new make notes do become stronger at the back.

Finish: bitter oak tannins and dirty peat, with a little bit of green malt sweetness

While still a bit immature, this shows a lot of promise. It combines a lot of the traits of a solid bourbon cask Lowland whisky with a touch of peat, which builds towards the back, leaving in a much dirtier fashion. Water pushes it more towards its Lowland roots, with the peat acting more as a spice than a distinguishable element. I feel like it would have been more enjoyable after enough time in the cask to burn off the new make character, but it's hard to know how much peat would be left after another handful of years in oak. At cask strength it has some heat, but is surprisingly tame most of the way through, likely due to having already lost a rather significant amount of alcohol in its 11 years (most whiskies of this age are >55% ABV).

For better or worse, this bottle is sold out, so you'll have to look for Europe if you want to find other lightly peated Bladnochs.

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