I've gone through a few expressions of Bruichladdich before, but this is an interesting one as it represents a previous chapter in the distillery's history. I was lucky enough to try a dram at the ever-wonderful Highland Stillhouse.
Like the 12 Year that I reviewed last year, this 10 Year old was put together from stock that came with the distillery when it was purchased by Mark Reynier. While supplies were spotty for the first few years due to the low production volumes during the 1990s under the previous owners, this was one of the early entry level whiskies that was meant to establish a core set of expressions. It was, however, briefly superseded by the aforementioned 12 Year, before being replaced by the current Laddie 10, which is composed entirely of whisky produced since 2001. Thus, the 10 Year represents a period when the distillery was trying to build its own style from the remnants of the old.
Bruichladdich 10 Year (Old Style)
Nose: malty, sour wine/vinegar/berries, very light sherry, even lighter oak, vanilla, caramel, a bit floral. After adding a few drops of water, there is more vanilla, less sherry, some apples, a bit flatter, and some vegetal peat comes out.
Taste: rather fresh overall, sweet/sour berries and creamy malt up front, sliding into caramel and sherry, very light oak and some maritime influence along with a bit of green peat at the back. After dilution, it gets malty/sucrose sweetness throughout, the flavors are a bit flatter and the sherry is lighter, more pepper and a bit of chocolate come out.
Finish: fresh malt, caramel, light sherry, hint of pepper, lightly bitter, slightly vegetal
While not a show-stopper, I felt like this was a very solid whisky. I have a feeling it may have lost something sitting open for so long - this whisky hasn't been bottled in a while, so I have a feeling it's soaked up a fair bit of oxygen in the intervening years. However it still does a good job of representing the house style - light oak influence, balanced malt and sherry, with just a hint of something maritime to remind you of its origins. Overall, a very pleasant whisky that I could see myself enjoying again if I could get my hands on more. It remains to be seen how the new Laddie 10 stacks up.
Wonjo Agujjim (Seoul, March 2023)
4 hours ago