Bladnoch, small and family-owned, is one of the few active distilleries in the Lowlands region. The distillery is beloved among whisky geeks on account of their no-frills, no-nonsense approach to the industry, their commitment to reasonable pricing, and a very high quality of whisky. You may not always read this online but it is true: there is no other distillery in Scotland that offers such good whisky at such attractive prices. If someone tries to tell you different (on any part of this) they don’t know what they are talking about. As you may have surmised, there was someone who tried to tell people different some months ago and he took quite a lot of stick for it online.
Oh hell, it was David Driscoll of K&L, who saw fit to announce upcoming private releases of casks of Bladnoch by denigrating the quality of the whisky already released by the owners–which he eventually acknowledged he had very limited experience of. Anyway, as I noted, he took a lot of stick for it, and there’s no need to fight the battle again (he and I went at it on a whisky forum for a bit). David seems like a good guy, just prone to getting carried away. Certainly, if he tasted the whisky I am reviewing tonight I hope he’d acknowledge its quality.
Bladnoch, in keeping with its location in the Lowlands region, generally produces lighter, unpeated whisky; but under the Armstrong regime (the current owners) they’ve released the odd lightly peated cask. This is from one of those casks.
Bladnoch 9, 2001, Lightly Peated (53.6%; Barrel no. 338; from my own bottle)
Nose: Faintly rubbery at first, settling into very nice notes of milk chocolate and mocha. Some vanilla buttercream as well. There’s a lightly farmy note as well–but no smoke as such, and nothing particularly medicinal. Not a tremendous amount of development but very, very nice. Gets a little brinier with time and a drop of water emphasizes this.
Palate: Leafy smoke on the palate, almost verging on the acrid before mellowing out into the milk chocolate/mocha of the nose. Some of that rubber too. The palate is certainly more assertive than the nose. Gets spicier with water and now there’s also a touch of graphite/slate and an inky quality I sometimes find in peated Islays (no phenols here though). There’s something here that says sherry cask to me, but I guess that’s unlikely to be the case with a barrel.
Finish: Long, salty (especially with water).
Comments: This is really quite nice. It’s not terribly complex but it’s no simpleton either. The nose tricks you into thinking it’s going to be mellow all around and then the palate has a surprising edge to it. Nice in the summer and would be very nice in the winter too. I really hope that some of these peated casks are being put away for some releases in the teens as well. More power to Bladnoch: I hope they work out whatever issues they have and keep giving us the good stuff.
Rating: 87 points.