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. Continue reading →
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.
Another highly peated whisky from Bruichladdich this week, this time the far more ludicrously peated Octomore 5.1. I believe at 169 ppm this is the most heavily peated of the Octomores yet. Of course, as Jordan Devereaux and other people with actual knowledge of chemistry have pointed out, the ppm rating of barley before distillation is always a more spectacular number than the ppm rating of the matured whisky, and still shape and size can also have tremendous influence on how much of the phenols make into the distillate (Bruichladdich has very tall stills).
Anyway, I don’t mean to give the impression that I know very much about these things. I do know, however, that despite these eye-popping ppm numbers the Octomores have not been particularly outlandishly smoky in the glass and that I’m increasingly sceptical about the point of this series (see my comments in my review of the 6.1; I’ve also reviewed the 2.1, the 4.2 and the Octomore 10.)
Here is the fourth release in Bruichladdich’s cask strength series of releases of their heavily peated Port Charlotte whisky, the PC8, “Ar Duthchas”. (The barley for the Port Charlotte line is peated to 40 ppm, putting it in the Lagavulin and Laphroaig range.) It was released in 2009 and represents the last release in the PC series of spirit from the original 2001 distillation, making it 8 years old. That is to say, PC 9 is not a nine year old—I’m not sure what year the spirit used in that and subsequent releases is from.
The series is now up to PC11—I’m not sure if there’s an endgame for the series or if there’s always going to be an ever-older annual cask strength PC release. At any rate, with unopened bottles of the PC7, 9 and 10 on my shelf I’m not in any danger of catching up to them. I’ve previously reviewed (and emptied) the PC6 and I was not a huge fan of that one. This PC8, however, I thoroughly enjoyed and am looking forward to tasting it again.
The bottle is long gone and so this review is from a 6 oz reference sample saved from when the bottle was in its prime. Continue reading →