Monday, September 4, 2017

Whisky Review: Bruichladdich 8 Year

The period after Bruichladdich was taken over by Rémy Cointreau saw the disappearance of nearly all of their age-dated single malts, ostensibly because aged stocks had been run down by the previous lineup of 10, 16, and 22 Year olds released near the end of the Reynier era. The (almost) all-NAS lineup that replaced it allowed them to use younger whiskies while they rebuilt.

Within the last year we have started to see hints that this hiatus may be coming to a close. Within that period they have released a number of age dated single malts, albeit ones with single-digit or low double-digit ages. This almost feels like an attempt to bring some closure to the missteps that were made just before and during the takeover, suggesting that they are entering a new era of stability. But the important question is whether the whisky is any good.

This whisky was aged in a mix of European (presumably sherry or some other kind of wine casks) and American (presumably bourbon and sherry casks) oak, then bottled at 50% without coloring or chill filtration.

Bruichladdich 8 Year

Nose: fresh malt, new make, a touch of sherry/vinegar/sour red wine, berries, herbal, vanilla, cinnamon, a little coastal and nutty, lightly charred oak. After adding a few drops of water the sherry is amplified alongside the sour notes and more European oak comes out, but the new make mostly fades.

Taste: creamy malt throughout, a touch of sherry, sour wine, berries, and lemon peel in the middle, increasingly strong/bitter oak with some herbal notes and sherried roundness at the back. After dilution it becomes more herbal, the oak at the back gains more European character and is balanced with a bit of peat, while the sherry/sour notes in the middle become stronger but more integrated.

Finish: tannic oak, sharp and drying but not unpleasant, creamy herbal malt, a touch of funk

Contrary to much of the younger releases during the Reynier era of Bruichladdich, this one appears to have had some moderately aggressive casks in the mix. While this is closer to the first 10 Year made from pre-purchase stocks that I liked, it still feels underdone - while the spirit is cleaner and lacking in the unpleasant funk that I found in the Laddie Ten First Edition, the oak has added too much and become overly tannic at full strength. Some of that can be mitigated with dilution, which makes me think that this would have been better off at their standard 46%. This gives me some hope for the future of Bruichladdich when they have a more stable balance between production and sales, but I'll give a full bottle a miss right now.

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