Ten years ago, the gates of Bruichladdich distillery opened and they began distilling once again. It was a new venture, financed on a small-scale, and it saved the distillery from permanent closure.
This new team wanted to focus completely on the single malt exactly how they wanted, with no crude marketing gimmicks and pictures of glens (hence the wonderfully designed labels). They poached a master distiller from Bowmore, another nearby Islay distillery, and commenced experimenting in what seems a refreshingly honest and authentic manner – their work ethic alone is to be celebrated. The 10 Year Old is the product of their first wave of gruelling efforts – a landmark whisky in the new era at Bruichladdich, based on newly distilled barley and not previous stocks.
But is it any good?
Colour: a real rich honey, darker than you think at first. On the nose: very aromatic, sweet and briny. Floral. Herbs with a touch of citrus. A waft of icing, but that doesn’t last long.
In the mouth: it’s a bold whisky, with lots going on here. Very peppery. Warming, like a mulled wine, but with a chewy, dried fruit sweetness to it. Dry, a little light on the tongue. Not the big heavy mouth feel of one or two of the other Bruichladdich offerings (such as The Organic or the First Growth Château Margaux – a particular favourite). Honey and green tea leads you out to a long, coastal and warming finish – the sort of pleasant feeling you get with peat, but this is unpeated. Perhaps with a touch of dark chocolate, especially when you sniff the glass again. It’s brash, almost cocky, yet mature.
It’s safe to say the first ten years at Bruichladdich have been a roaring success. This is more complicated than many of the others in the range, though not quite my favourite (they make a lot of very good whisky). An excellent introduction to the distillery, this is bottled at 46% and will set you back around £35.