Bruichladdich 12 Year 2nd Edition: 46% abv
Background: Well, so long as we are doing Bruichladdich, we might as well move on to the next standard offering from them. First, a little more on Bruichladdich. Pronounced Brook-laddie, the name is Gaelic for “raised beach”. Bruichladdich sits on the west side of Islay, and is one of the less publicized malts of the island. You will come to expect that with Bruichladdich, you will see craft presentation. The 12 Year is no exception, with explicit writing on the bottle telling you that it is 46%, non-chill filtered, and natural color. That’s a great sign. Bruichladdich’s 12 Year old whisky is lightly peated, aged in Bourbon oak casks, and made by Master Distiller Jim McEwan. This whisky is sort of an anomaly to me, but we’ll get to that later in the review. Now, some notes!
Nose: The nose starts off in a very odd way. Despite being a bourbon barrel-aged whisky, there is something remarkably “sherried” smelling to this. Starting off with a rich smell of caramel, vanilla bean, chocolate, raisons, honey, and sweet malt, you would be convinced that this was a Sherry monster. The whisky is also distinctively floral in its aroma. The amount of fruitiness in here is incredible, with a succulent, rich aroma of berries and other juicy delights. There is a slightly acidic Champagne flavor that also coats the top of the glass. There is some smoky oak char and light peat to be enjoyed in this whisky. Sporadically, a little bit of campfire marshmellows is noticeable, sort of like a burnt sugar smell.
Arrival: The arrival is definitely thick, chocolately, and sweet. There was a front of acidity in the arrival, that transformed into a wave of sweetness. There is a very juicy, beautiful mixture of cherries, strawberries, and raspberries in the arrival. The arrival is definitely succulent.
Body: The body has the mysteriously raison-esque Sherry character to it. There is a lot of chocolate and caramel that add to a rich, thick body. The mouth-feel here is just incredible and thick. The body becomes quite acidic and salty as it leads into the finish.
Finish: The finish closes off with a mixture of tart fruits, dry maltiness, and coastal saltiness. It really closes the whisky reminding you that you’re dealing with a unique Islay. It has tart cranberry, fresh maltiness, cinnamon and pepper that help add to the complexity, not to mention slight traces of pecan. You will find most of the peatiness here as well. The salt becomes quite strong here in the finish. A bit of oak is also noticeable here. As the finish concludes, a grainy graham cracker flavor closes the whole event.
Nose: And to add to our craziness, the sherry flavor we’ve been accounting for all over comes out dominantly after adding water. Vanilla bean becomes more prevalent. It is also interesting how there is more of a raw grain flavor than before.
Arrival: The arrival has settled down substantially, with less attacking flavor. It seems that there is less complexity as well though. The sherry is still very dominant.
Body: There is a more confectionary, sugary flavor that comes through in the body. There is some tartness, but it is mostly sweetness and fruitiness.
Finish: The finish has brought out the darker flavors of chocolate and caramel, with an added subtle coffee to it. The finish has a bit less coastal flavor to it, with a good amount malt and more vegetal flavor, similar to the ten year. This still has a big, juicy fruitiness to it.
Final Comments: Back to the anomaly that I referenced earlier today. I just cannot believe that this whisky is not sherried! We have had a number of experiences with sherry barrel aged whiskies, and if I was blindfolded, I would have said it was one. None-the-less, this is a fantastic, balanced whisky, and Bruichladdich proves itself again. In general, this takes the other end of the spectrum from the 10 year, offering up succulent, delicious fruit notes to couple the Islay coastal style. This is just such an enjoyable whisky to sit down and sip on, we can’t help but swoon over it.
Why you’d buy it: It will put you in your happy place.
Why you wouldn’t: It doesn’t have that Islay peat style to it.