Bruichladdich, The Laddie 10

Laddie 10
The Laddie 10, first released a few years ago, caused great excitement on arrival as it marked the coming of age of the reopened and rejuvenated Bruichladdich under the Reynier-McEwan regime. There had been limited edition releases of their peated Port Charlotte and Octomore lines along the way but this was the first release of whisky aged to a more traditional 10 years of age and was meant to be the cornerstone of what would become their new core range. This was a secondary cause of celebration for many whisky geeks as it also marked the end of a decade of tomfoolery at Bruichladdich, when to keep the cash-flow going they’d released about 30,000 different “high concept” releases, almost all of which were dodgy old stock jazzed up in wine casks or brightly coloured tins. (Some of these were actually very good, by the way: the Infinity 3, for example.)

Since then, of course, the distillery has been purchased by Remy-Cointreau, Mark Reynier has been forced out and the status of the Laddie 10 has been up in the air: not easy to find in all markets and constant rumours and denials that it’s been discontinued.

Anyway, at initial release the Laddie 10 was greeted warmly and received very strong reviews. I purchased a bottle in Minnesota not too long after and was very disappointed. Where everyone had found a balanced, mellow malt with lemon and sweeter fruit I found mostly strong butyric notes (your infamous baby vomit). I went through my bottle slowly, shared it with friends along the way, and it never got better. Given how much of an outlier this view was I was willing to accept that my bottle probably came from a duff batch. Then again, I find butyric notes in almost all of Bruichladdich’s spirit. At any rate, I was not inclined to invest another $45-50 to see if I could get luckier. And so I’m pleased to be able to review this sample (from a bottle also purchased in Minnesota) and am hopeful that it may be better than my bottle was.

Bruichladdich, The Laddie 10 (46%; from a sample received in a swap)

Nose: The eau de puke comes rising off the top, I’m afraid. I can smell the citrus and malt below that but frankly, I’m not inclined to take very deep sniffs right now; let’s hope that top note burns off quickly. Five minutes later it’s still the dominant note but there’s more lemon and some toasted malt too now along with a simple sweetness (simple syrup). With a lot of time (>30 minutes) it’s finally abated enough to let the other stuff up to the top. Water knocks it back further and now the lemon’s shaded by some icing sugar.

Palate: Much better on the palate; the butyric note is still present but now the lemon dominates. And I may be hallucinating but there seems to be an ashiness to it too. No, it’s definitely there along with wet gravel. Gets saltier as it goes. Water does less good for the palate, mostly jumbling everything up and bringing out a light note of plastic.

Finish: Medium. Lemon and ash and hot concrete. More salt on the finish too with time. As on the palate with water.

Comments: I think I remember reading somewhere that the malt for the 2011 release had been peated to 10 ppm and that they subsequently went back to an unpeated/very lightly peated malt. I’m guessing this bottle is from the early run. Then again I’m all but certain that the one I opened in 2012 was as well and I don’t remember as much ash on the palate on that one. I also remember it having more of a sherry character. Mid-palate to finish was the best part of this for me; that off-note on the nose took a really long time to settle down and never really went away. I can’t see buying this over the Arran 10.

Rating: 81 points.

Thanks to Patrick for the sample!

7 thoughts on “Bruichladdich, The Laddie 10

  1. Oh god, yes! Finally someone else to talk to who gets this as the vomitorium it is!

    I, too, purchased a bottle of this when it first came out and was surprised to find that someone had opened my bottle, puked in is, filtered out all the solids and sealed the bottle back up.

    And despite an epic amount of this note, no one I poured this for got it.

    I wound up pouring the last third of this down the drain. With the rumors of this being discontinued, I wonder if some high-up at PR got a whiff of this and decided to can the line.

    This was my first and only Bruichladdich to date, and frankly I stay away from their malt now because of how disgusting this one was. Everyone goes on and on about Jim McWhatshisname as the patron saint of master distillers, but if this is the kind of stuff he’s OK with, I want none of it.


  2. Wow, Zach, you’re making me feel self-conscious about having given this 81 points. You’re not in MN, are you? If not, that would put paid to theory that there was something wrong with the early batches that came our way.

    I think that puke/butyric/sour milk/cheese rind note is a hallmark of Bruichladdich’s spirit, probably on account of their stills. (Jordan of Chemistry of the Cocktail can explain this stuff much better.) I get it in almost everything they’ve released of their own making—but in Port Charlotte and Octomore the heavy peat keeps it under wraps.


  3. It’s nice to read some plain speaking about Bruichladdich, its overhype, and the motives behind all the “revolutionary” cask razzmatazz (at Bowmore, a huge misstep, but, at Bruichladdich, a “stroke of genius”). Looking at the ceaseless claims of “triumph” at every turn, it would be hard for any whisky drinker not to be disappointed with the reality: yes, a whisky that most will put somewhere in the 80s, but not really exceptional – as most people will put most whiskies in the 80s; just reality or a problem with scoring, you be the judge. Bruichladdich’s reboot wasn’t the second coming of whisky, and Arran, Kilchoman, Amrut, Kavalan and Annandale aren’t going to be either, despite, in following Bruichladdich’s “counter-culture” model, they all play on the “and whisky orthodoxy said it (what?) couldn’t be done” for all they’re worth. That this or that distillery is considered “hot” at any given moment continues to be a distraction from deeper problems (a prominent one being that, somehow, Glenlivet can’t “afford” to age its main expression for 12 years anymore). Everyone is being talked into how great young whisky is, which will be very convenient when that’s all there is in most people’s price range.


  4. Must be like sulphur, something some people never get, and others never get rid of. I’ve had some really good Bruichladdichs and others that weren’t very exciting, but I’ve never gotten that note–to my palate, they’ve all been very clean.


  5. It’s a shame: the initial Reynier-era Laddie Ten was fantastic, just sublime, and then subsequent batches have been butyric and lacklustre. Unfortunately there is nothing in the packaging to single out the initial bottling so my recommendation is to pass unless you had the knowledge and foresight to pick up several bottles from the first Laddie Ten batch.


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