A Bruichladdich Single Malt Whisky Tasting Event Recap
With its no age-statement bottles, diverse taste profiles, and fascinating back catalogue, no other distillery has enlivened and reinvigorated the world of whisky as much as Bruichladdich has over the last few years.
For one night, whisky enthusiasts and epicures alike were treated to a taste of Islay, exploring a handful of progressive delights straight from the Bruichladdich distillery. Held last December 4, 2015, the Whisky Society of Manila, together with Mr. Joey Pineda of Rémy Cointreau Philippines and Premier Wines and Spirits Manila, hosted its first sponsored tasting, treating the guests to an exclusive sampling of the Bruichladdich single malt product range including the Classic Laddie, Port Charlotte, and Octomore.
While most of us got the chance to sit down and try Bruichladdich Whisky, the brand itself is still relatively new here to the Philippines distribution so I wanted to take a minute to properly introduce these new players to the Single Malt market here in the country.
A Brief Introduction To The Tradition of Bruichladdich Whisky
Bruichladdich is a distillery that is independent and proud of it. The Harvey Brothers started the distillery in 1881 with experience in distilling. All three of the brothers wanted build another brand and thus Bruichladdich was born. Each one of the whiskies is made in a traditional style that the Harvey Brothers started and that is non-chill filtered with no coloring added, hence the light color profile.
As with most craft whisky distillers, not all of the different whiskies made by Bruichladdich are easily accessible. Some of them have become rare over time and some of them ware produced for specific distributions. Today they have three types of whisky: The Bruichladdich, which takes the name of the company, is a unpeated single malt whisky that has the taste of fruit. It is distilled from 100% Scottish Barley and the recipe for it has changed very little over the years. Neither has the process of making it. The Harvey brothers wanted to create a very traditional product and it has been kept the same since.
The Bruichladdich comes in a variety of different flavors, years, and names. There are six total Bruicladdich whiskies. These are considered to be the classic tastes of the distillery:
• The Classic Laddie
• Islay Barley 2009
• Islay Barley 2007
• The Organic Scottish Barley
• Bere Barley 2008 Uhi Orkney Farms
• Black Art 4 1990
Each one of these flavors is a dedication to Scottish Whisky while at the same time breaking tradition. The labels have nothing to do with the locations that they are traditionally associated with and the names mean more than taste and have a very complicated meaning.
Port Charlotte Whisky
Peated whisky tends to be considered a less than elegant drink but Bruichladdich introduced the Port Charlotte and changed that. This heavily peated whisky has an elegant taste that is also fruity and floral. The Port Charlotte gets its name from a town nearby Bruichladdich (the name sake of the brewery) that once housed the Lochindaal Distillery. Now Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte is a tribute to the Lochindaal Distillery which is now silent.
There are four different Whiskies that have been produced under the Port Charlotte name. Each one brings a little something special to the Islay Single Malt arena. Here are the four Port Charlotte drinks:
• Port-Charlotte Scottish Barley
• Islay Barley 2008 Coull, Kynagarry, Island, Rockside, Starchmill & Sunderland Farms
• PC11 EA’RNA Na H-ALBA
• PC12 Oileanach Furachail
Like with the Bruichladdich the names has a very loose connection to the traditional tastes and flavors and is instead more complex. All of the Port Charlotte whiskies are still matured in the old stone warehouse that Bruichladdich has been using for ages.
Even more heavy on the peat is the Octomore, a whisky that started out as a “what if” idea and now has turned into “the peatiest” scotch in the world. The Octomore gets its name for the James Brown farm located above Port Charlotte. The Octomore Farm once was a distillery itself and once again Bruichladdich found with it the perfect namesake for a whisky, just like Octomore is a revolutionary whisky the town and farm were known for being independent and self-sufficient.
There are several versions of the Octomore but 6.1 version that we were able to sample during the tasting has a measurable peatiness at 167 phenol parts per million (ppm). Let’s compare that to other heavily peated whiskies:
• Talisker – 25ppm
• Caol Ila – 30ppm
• Lagavulin – 35ppm
• Laphroaig – 40ppm
• Port Charlotte – 40ppm
• Ardbeg – 55ppm
• Octomore – 167ppm
The numbers speak for itself and while the numbers are off the charts, one would expect overkill on the taste but surprisingly, this bottle was the clear winner of the night as even non-peatheads and novices truly enjoyed the Octomore as a very balanced drink and not as smoky as expected. You’d wonder how Bruichladdich is able to accomplish this because the Octomore packs an alcoholic punch at 59.5% and is only 5 years old! Incredible!
The Octomore can be found in six different long neck whiskey bottles, each with its own unique taste and name. Here are the six whiskies that the Bruichladdich has made in the Octomore line:
• 07.3/169 PPM Islay Barley 2010
• 07.2/208 PPM Cask Evolution
• 07.1/208 PPM Scottish Barley
• 06.3/258 PPM Islay Barley 2009
• 06.2/167 PPM Cask Evolution
• 06.1/167 PPM Scottish Barley
The different names each carry with them a different flavor and strength of barley. Each one has a super heavily pleated whisky taste that have a less detectible fruity taste than the other Bruchladdich lines.
Now going back to the event recap, despite last minute arrangements and little promotion, over 30 Whisky Society members braved the holiday Manila traffic and made their way to Paprika PH in BGC. The whisky tasting was led by none other than the Bruichladdich Brand Ambassador himself, Mr. Richard Gillam.
The tasting commenced with a brief discourse on the humble beginnings of Bruichladdich and its brewing principles, entertaining the guests with whisky-related anecdotes throughout his 18-year career in the industry, and guiding them on a journey of discovery on the many aspects and facets of the acclaimed Bruichladdich collection. Anything but run-of-the-mill, with the artisan partner’s adeptness, the session proved to be insightful and informative for any whisky connoisseur.
Then the gang got quickly acquainted with a 3 flight variety from the Bruichladdich label (The Bruichladdich Classic, The Port Charoltte, and The Octomore) These 3 bottles recently gained distribution here in Manila and you can find them at selected retailers or from Premier wines.
With the distinctive characteristics of every cask, each bottle of single malt produced is truly greater than the sum of its parts. The Bruichladdich Single Malt Tasting Event was yet another great experience and an added highlight to our progressive whisky journey with three new discoveries. Whether it’s unpeated like the Classic Laddie or heavily peated similar to the Octomore, in the end, it’s all a matter of individual preference when it comes to whisky. Stay tuned for the next one.