Bruichladdich 18yo 2005 (Cask 518) Nickolls & Perks Inaugural Casks & Dramfool’s Middle Cut Bruichladdich 14yo Cask #1944


We've got two independently bottled teenage Bruichladdich's up for review today.

Bruichladdich 18yo 2005 (Cask 518) Nickolls & Perks Inaugural Casks

Region: Islay

ABV: 54.7%

Price: £180.00

This whisky is one of three casks selected to inaugurate Nickolls & Perks' new independent bottling range. Distilled in 2005, it was matured for 18 years in a first-fill bourbon cask, culminating in its bottling in 2023. A total of 195 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose opens with strong aromas of vanilla, akin to fondant icing, backed up by wisps of salty sea air, limoncello, tangerine peel, sandpaper, and shortbread fingers. There’s good balance to the alcohol on the nose, its present but does well to back up the punchy bourbon cask aromas. It’s distinctly Bruichladdich, with the coastal Islay air, dunnage must and little bit of farmyard funk in the background. Time and air brings more creamy fudge, along with a little bit of ground ginger spice.

Palate

The palate brings a big hit of oak initially, before mellowing into sweet vanilla cream, cut with some sharp freshly squeezed lemon juice. The alcohol is slightly more apparent on the palate with the ginger from the nose coming through in a relatively warm, spicy manner. The mouthfeel is nice, it’s got a sugar syrup-like texture, and the finish lasts for a medium length with mostly wafer cones, salted caramel and candied ginger. There’s also a bit of fruit here, although its mostly citrus and salt with a whack of spice from the alcohol.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose mirrors the aromas we detected before dilution, with a heavier emphasis on the sweeter and saltier sides. Lots of vanilla, lots of sea spray, some light caramel and the dunnage warehouse must. It’s very pleasant, very complex, and it’s mellowed some of the gingery spice we got before.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate loses some of the texture we detected before, and begins with some sour candies, vanilla bon bons, fudge and dry earth. It’s much more balanced, with the alcohol taking back seat. We’re also finding a distinct lychee liqueur flavour appearing. We’d say that a drop or two of water helps, it’s a pity that it affects the mouthfeel so much though.

Conclusion

A classic bourbon cask Bruichladdich, lots of coastal, salty flavours and aromas backed up with sweet oak. It’s got a really lovely nose, complex and interesting, but the palate lets the dram down somewhat. There’s a bit too much upfront spice which throws the dram out of balance. A drop of water improves the dram in some ways, but detracts in others.

Score: 7/10

Value

It's a little depressing to say, but this isn’t bad value for an indie Bruichladdich these days.


Dramfool’s Middle Cut Bruichladdich 14yo Cask #1944

Region: Islay

ABV: 64.8%

Price: £185.00

Distilled 15th June 2009 this release spent its life maturing in 1st fill Syrah Red Wine Barrique for 14 years before being bottled 5th July 2023. 265 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose opens with punnets of red berries, currants and strawberries, all cooking down into a delicious red fruit jam. Behind this sits some warm spices, cinnamon sticks and star anise. For the ABV, we’re very impressed, we’re able to get our noses deep into the glass without much issue. We’re also finding maraschino cherries in syrup, a little flambéd orange peel and the slightest bit of charred oak and maldon sea salt.

Palate

The palate begins with a load of high percentage dark chocolate, gingerbread cookies, cinnamon sticks, salted caramel digestive biscuits and plum jam. It has some Armagnac notes here too, very brandy forward, a little rough around the edges but very pleasant. Impressively balanced for the ABV, it’s warming but not overpowering. The mouthfeel is good and finish lingers on for a good while with charred wood, acidic green apple and toasted walnuts.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose is a bit nuttier, more wood spice coming through with less of the red fruit character that we experienced before. Prickly pear, toffee covered in chocolate and something a little herbal in the background as well. Different, not necessarily better, not necessarily worse.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate has a more acidic beginning, like the berries from before were picked just before ripening, moving into warm oak spice, tannins and raisin syrup. There’s still a warm spice, cinnamon predominantly, it almost feels like there’s more alcohol burn after the reduction which is something we weren’t expecting.

Conclusion

Super cask driven Bruichladdich. We’re not getting too much of the Laddie spirit character, but we’re getting lots and lots of high ABV red wine influence. It’s quite tasty, reminding us more of an Armagnac on the palate than a whisky. It’ll suit some palates more than others, but we enjoyed the dram nonetheless.

Score: 7.5/10

Value

Unfortunately, you won’t hear Independently Bottled Bruichladdich and value for money in the same sentence much anymore, but this is a symptom of the current cask prices.

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  • 10 - Perfection. One in a million
  • 9 - Outstanding. Exceptional whisky.
  • 8 - Great. Would seek this out.
  • 7 - Good. Quality whisky.
  • 6 - Above average. Happy to have a dram.
  • 5 - Average. Drinkable whisky.
  • 4 - Below average. Passable.
  • 3 - Flawed. Noticeable negatives.
  • 2 - Defective. Significant faults.
  • 1 - Offensive. Pour it out.

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