Bruichladdich has been putting out NAS/multi-vintage releases in their trademark blue bottles under the Laddie Classic/Classic Laddie name holding down the lower end of the lineup since 2009. The name was inverted in 2013 when it became part of their Scottish Barley project alongside a more heavily peated Port Charlotte version.
All of these have striven to showcase what the distillery considers to be its core profile - clean malt flavors with some coastal influence. These have all been from American oak casks, though they have been a mix of ex-bourbon, ex-sherry (at least in the early iterations), an ex-red wine. The Scottish Barley releases have all been bottled at 50% without coloring or chill filtration.
I purchased this sample from Dramtime.nl
Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley
Nose: pleasantly mild earthy peat funk, round fresh malt - less youthful than expected, a little bit of red wine and oak in the background. After adding a few drops of water it turns into something like WIPs Kilkerrans with the peat integrating and turning into something like ginger cookies.
Taste: pleasant malt sweetness up front with a little heat and oak underneath, continues in the same vein towards the back where it picks up some light red wine, a bit of gentle peat, and a little more oak. After dilution it becomes more rounded with the red wine tucking into the background while the peat spreads out and integrates, resulting in a much more enjoyable profile.
Finish: balanced clean malt, earthy peat, oak, and a bit of red wine
This continues to gives me hope that Bruichladdich finally has their spirit under control. There's a little bit of their funk at full strength, but it reads closer to the very mild peat of the 12 Year Second Edition than the over the top weirdness of Laddie Ten. Speaking of which, while this is nominally part of their 'unpeated' lineup, this absolutely tastes lightly peated. I have no clue whether that is how they choose to malt the barley for this release or if it is picking up the remnants of their Port Charlotte and Octomore runs from the washbacks and stills, but either way it has similarities to Hazelburns that come off as peated.
I might consider buying more if I could find it around the $40 mark. Especially with water it hits a lot of the notes I look for from Bruichladdich, though it is missing the salinity that would take it up a notch. As it stands this is a competent malt that reminds me of early Kilkerran WIP releases, well-suited for times when you don't want to think too hard about what you're drinking. By the same token there is nothing here to dazzle, but sometimes that's exactly what you're looking for.
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