Super heavily peated. Yep, you read that right and probably thought it was the name of the new Muse album? Imagine that thunderous bass kicking in, before the rhythm section strikes up and then the vocal screaming super heavily p-e-a-t-e-d! What next? A revolution?
On paper this whisky is clearly a winner. It says exactly what it does on the tin. The old style Bruichladdich tin packaging is in full effect here and fondly remembered by some enthusiasts. Long before things became buffed, slick and manufactured like we see today. In fact, much like Muse in their later years.
Musical similarities aside, it is rare that I have the opportunity to review anything from Bruichladdich and for this, I’m eternally grateful. Mark is our constant source of proclamations and positivity around this distillery. You can wallow in all things Bruichladdich amongst our 2 billion or so reviews that we’ve compiled over the years.
Needless to say, I have very little to do with Bruichladdich and I’m quite happy with this position. Occasionally, much like the weeds on your driveway, the best defences are breached and you have to deal with the infestation. Recently, I talked about the misguided We Are Islay campaign from the distillery that seems like a knee-jerk reaction. The fact there was a rather good Bunnahabhain within the piece may have been pushed aside a little. My point still remains valid and surprisingly of late things have been rather quiet from hey look at me distillery.
Bruichladdich has been on my mind a great deal recently. I’ve been tasked with putting together a tasting of the distillery going back several decades. You may have seen some of the bottles appearing on my Instagram feed prompting several onlookers to query whether I’ve fallen ill? Only a very special person would receive this treatment, or even survive making such a demand of me. Never mind the Bruichladdich t-shirt suggestion. Retrospectively, it has been a fun concept and tasting to collate. I’ve always been a fan of the pre-closure Bruichladdich, more so than the post-revival output. This may change over time and the matter of Port Charlotte has always been variable. In fact, if the name had been in use by the distillery at the time of this review bottle, then it’s more than foreseeable this is actually a Port Charlotte in disguise.
Last month I had the fortune to attend the latest incarnation of the Whiskybase Gathering. In my humble opinion, the greatest whisky festival there is on planet earth. Make the effort to experience it at least once in your life before it is no more. I’m filled with sadness when I see some of the events organised Stateside with tickets costing several hundred dollars for regular entry, or even more for VIP access. The whiskies themselves looking at the line-ups for these events never seem to warrant the entry fee. Perhaps I’m spoiled living in Scotland? Maybe I’m a trooper intent on spoiling the fun for everyone? Or put enjoyment before business? In reality, it is whisky and friends before almost everything else. When they mix together it is a deadly combination much like Alexandra.
Back to Rotterdam, where I was slowly meandering along the formidable coastline of stalls. Then something caught my eye amongst the mountains of bottles. No, it wasn’t a Tormore at this specific stall. Rather a bottle I had purchased for the aforementioned tasting and had thought little of since. The Bruichladdich Super Heavily Peated. Featuring a peated malt level of 79ppm, 3 ex-bourbon casks and a sherry cask, all brought together.
The stall hosted by the Ukrainian Whisky Corner and Connoisseurs Club from Kiev was a big surprise during the festival. Showcasing exclusive releases for their domestic market, often these came with a twist on what you’d normally expect. I won’t go too deeply into their range just now, as I purchased several samples to review over the coming weeks. This Bruichladdich has a special place in their hearts as it was their debut bottling and is a vatting of several casks as you can see in the photograph above.
Meanwhile, we have a review and a Bruichladdich. Let’s crank the volume to 11 and get stuck in before Mark shows up and demands he takes control, again.
Bruichladdich Super Heavily Peated 2003 – review
Colour: A gold bar.
On the nose: A striking sweet peat. Almost freshly spun candy floss in arrival and vibrancy. Decaying bark, a dulled cinnamon and a sprinkling of sea salt and caramel. A touch of eucalyptus. Honeyed, yes but there’s more going on here. Black breakfast tea, dark brown soft sugar, more earthiness and memories of Islay with a layer of spent smoke.
In the mouth: Pleasingly approachable and just enough character. More rich honey, salted caramel, a fresh earthiness and dirty vanilla that combine well. Dark chocolate spent tobacco and autumnal vegetation. A rum character before a little aniseed and black pepper towards the finish.
In whisky sometimes less is more. We have here a vatting of a handful of casks cleverly combined to give us something more than the individual component parts themselves. In reality, the name is perhaps misleading as it isn’t super nor is it heavily peated, or at least not nowadays.
Ignoring titles, this is a Bruichladdich to open and enjoy with friends, hopefully in my case in the near future with a fun tasting. A whisky that should go down well with attendees and a fine choice.