The Laddie Twenty Two appeared in 2012 alongside the Laddie Sixteen, and following the Laddie Ten, and together the series promised a departure from the wild profusion of Bruichladdich’s releases over the previous decade. Unlike the Laddie 10, which was entirely the spirit distilled and matured by Jim McEwan and co. after the distillery was purchased by Mark Reynier and co., this 22 yo is from stock remaining from the previous owners. Given the generally dodgy nature of much of this inherited stock—some hold that the endless finishes and experiments Reynier, McEwan and co. threw out were due to the need to find a way to make it palatable— it must be put together from some of the very best casks they had. Of course, since its release the distillery has been sold again and Mark Reynier has been pushed out, and the fate of the Laddie Ten is not clear either—and I’m not sure if this 22 yo is a going concern either.
I do know that it’s unpeated (as in the classic Bruichladdich style), entirely from American oak casks (and ex-bourbon at that, I think), that it’s quite expensive and that it was also very well received. Now to see what I think of it—the previous oldest Bruichladdich I’ve had (one of those dodgy cask experiments) was really not to my taste.
Bruichladdich, “The Laddie Twenty Two” (46%; from a sample from a fellow whisky geek)
Nose: Rich, golden notes of honey and orange peel; a bit of roasted malt below than and then grassier notes along with some pine/rye. The pine/rye turns to toasted wood and now there’s some sweeter fruit (plum maybe) and some vanilla. Yeah, definitely some plum (jam) and some apricot too after a bit. Very nice indeed. With more time it’s back to the honey and orange as the top notes, now joined by soft vanilla. A few drops of water pull out even more buttery vanilla but also bring back some of the pine. The honey and citrus intensify too.
Palate: The mouthfeel is a bit thin and the flavours don’t arrive as immediately as the aromas did. Sweeter on the palate— and the sweetness is more from the fruit than the honey—and there’s less wood here too. With time the fruit gets a little brighter (apples) and more acidic (oranges). Gets a little richer with time. Water doesn’t do a whole lot for the palate except maybe emphasize the citrus a little more.
Finish: Medium. Longer than expected given the mouthfeel. The sweeter notes slowly fade and the toasted wood makes its appearance, adding a nice bit of bite and spice at the end. Longer and brighter with water.
Comments: The nose was my favourite part; it led me to expect the palate to be richer than it was (though it did improve with time); and then the palate made me think the finish would be shorter than it was. A very nice whisky with no flaws (well, maybe the mouthfeel) but no real complexity to show for its 22 years either. On the whole, I think I’d rather get 2-3 bottles of the Nadurra at the price.
Rating: 87 points.
Thanks to Jerome for the sample!