Monday, October 23, 2017

Whisky Review: Bruichladdich 15 Year First Edition

Bruichladdich 15 Year was part of the first wave of releases after the distillery was reopened by Mark Reynier and Co in the early-2000s. This was a fairly standard set of releases, including a 10 Year and a 17 Year, which were fairly standard combinations of bourbon and sherry casks that had been distilled under the previous regime.

The whisky was bottled at 46% without coloring or chill filtration and released in 2003. This miniature was purchased at the Islay Whisky Shop in 2013 during my trip to Scotland.

Bruichladdich 15 Year First Edition

Nose: rich, buttery fortified wine character, dried fruit, light vanilla, solid oak (American/European), background malt, orange/lime peel, floral. After adding a few drops of water the wine and malt notes are amplified, softer overall, and some cinnamon notes come out.

Taste: wine-driven, sweet fruit (grape) and honey up front, growing acidic and floral towards the back, grassy/oak bitterness into the finish. After dilution the fruit becomes brighter, there is more citrus and less acidity, plus increased oak tannins.

Finish: acidic, grape, light European oak, grassy malt

While I think this is a good whisky, I found it a little hard to find the 'Laddie character underneath the wine. In a lot of ways this is surprising since the first edition was a very sensible mix of bourbon and sherry casks, but it is in keeping with their style at the time.

In an interesting demonstration of the influence of expectations, I originally thought that this was the second rather the first edition, which would have meant that it had a sauternes cask finish rather than the sherry. Lo and behold, I interpreted a lot of the wine notes as sauternes, à la Glenmorangie Nectar d'Or. When I corrected this impression, the wine notes were more clearly sherry. So mistaken beliefs about what you're drinking can radically alter your perceptions.

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