Bruichladdich 2003 Port Cask Matured

Those of you who know your whisky labels, or just your Islay whisky, will notice that the image up there features an old Bruichladdich logo. Indeed, this isn’t a new whisky, by any means, but it’s only recently come on sale in the general UK market. Anyway, being a fan of the distillery, I’ve always been interested in their experiments. Such unusual creations were plentiful as the distillery waited for its new stock to come of age after it rose from the ashes. There are, of course, more complex reasons for producing so many whiskies. As a result, you often see a few weird-looking bottles around, and I was in the mood to try something different, so snapped up this Bruichladdich 2003 Port Cask Matured whisky from The Whisky Exchange.

It’s a 7-year-old whisky distilled in 2003, and rather than ending up in a bourbon cask – and not even finished in some obscure yet utterly fascinating rare wine cask – this whisky has been aged only in Port casks, and bottled at 46% ABV. Another intriguing experiments from the folks at Bruichladdich, certainly, but any good?

Colour: bold as hell. Like a really strong breakfast tea without the milk. On the nose: sweet and creamy. A mellow, soft brie; or the occasional waft of dessert wine. Even a sweet rosé wine. Apples. Molasses. Pretty unusual and aromatic.

In the mouth: the classic, thick and velvety Laddie texture really shines through on this. Warming, plummy. Seville orange marmalade. Gentle and stately. Manchego or even a Wensleydale cheese. (Actually, something about this makes me think it would go very well with cheeses – not just the fact that I’m thinking of port and cheese together!) There’s a final warming, peppery tang on the back end. But it’s a rather lovely – nothing to seep into your bones like an Octomore, but still very graceful, textured and nuanced.

Again, not complex compared to many of their other offerings, but it’s very interesting nonetheless. However, I can’t help but wonder what this would have been like at cask strength…

Ultimately, it reminds me of some of their First Growth offerings, though it doesn’t have the same wow factor – as I find those tremendous whiskies – but if you’re a fan already, this is well worth checking out. In fact, if you simply like sweet-edged and velvety drams, this will tickle your tastebuds nicely. You can pick a bottle up for around £45, which strikes me as excellent value for money.


I've written about (and reviewed) whisky for Whisky Magazine, among other publications, and have been a whisky judge for competitions including the World Whiskies Awards. I've done other writing too: several mass market genre novels, a few short stories, including for BBC Radio 4. For my day job (I know, I don't get out much) I work in digital content. Follow me on Instagram.com/maltreview/ or Twitter.com/MaltReview. Generally, my tastes lean towards ex-sherry cask and ex-wine cask influences on the spirit, but I'm not so fussed as long as the whisky's gone into good wood.

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