Only one review today, but it’s a big one. After a busy month where we’ve tasted sixty plus 8yo releases from the SMWS, we’re taking a second, slowing down, and treating ourselves to a review of one of the years big releases. Yep, it’s Black Art 9.1. Full disclosure, we’re huge laddie fans, which means while we’re both going to be biased here but we’re also going to be very harsh on this dram.
Whisky: Bruichladdich Black Art 9.1
This particular release is the fifth Black Art bottling from Adam Hannett, it’s a 29yo, unpeated single malt, distilled in 1992, it's the oldest black art release so far, it’s also non chill filtered, has no added colour and was a release of 12,000 bottles. We’ll be honest there’s not a huge amount else we can tell you about the release as the recipe for this release like the other Black Art releases is a closely guarded secret. Well actually their is one other thing we can tell you, it will set you back at least £350. Which for those of you keeping track is a £75 increase on last year’s release. There’s probably a separate article here on the ever increasing price of whisky, and more particularly Bruichladdich releases, but we’ll save that for another day. Onto the whisky.
The undiluted nose has orange peel, yeast, Del Monte pineapple juice, mixed with freshly squeezed apple juice, red grapes, wood shavings, and a little Oloroso sherry. A very promising start, as usual we could nose these releases all day.
We’re getting notes of ash, orange peel, toffee brittle, coffee, dark chocolate covered cherries, and after eights. It has a warm finish which is a touch short, but not unpleasant. It has nice balance of peppery spice and sweeter notes. We’d never guess this was bottled at 44.1%, and to us it tastes more like something around 50%.
Nose (with water)
Water brings out toffee on the nose, along with caramelised brown sugar, more apple, orangeade and ginger.
Palate (with water)
Now with water this has apple purée, ash, caramelised toffee, think toffee pops. The coffee is gone, but this is now a little tannic and mouth drying. We wouldn’t recommend adding water to this. Our guess is this has a god amount of re-racked wine casks mixed with some sherry casks. Hopefully one day Adam spills the beans.
This is a complex dram with a nice mix of flavours from the different casks used, but there’s maybe too many flavours here that don’t blend together as well as we’d like. Don’t get us wrong it’s good, just not good enough to make it worth the asking price. We’d recommend you try it first as we’ve personally had more interesting drams around this this age from Bruichladdich, such as Dramfool’s 34th release, a stunning 29yo full maturation sherry cask release. Giving the cost we’re giving this a 7.5/10.
Now, Bruichladdich would no doubt argue the extra cost is justified given only 1% of the current warehouse stock was distilled before 1994 when the distillery closed. Now, if you share that opinion and you have no issue with how expensive this is we can tell you our score ignoring price is 8.5/10. Currently it’s our favourite of the post Jim McEwan releases, but we have got to think the quality of the remaining stock has dropped, and that we’ll never again reach the mythical heights of the early releases.
Personally, we feel this and Black Art 8.1 are very close in quality, and if you really want a Black Art release for your collection we’d recommend you save a few pennies and buy the 8.1 instead.
- 10 - Perfection. A whisky that we’ll remember forever.
- 9 - Amazing. We’d pay through the nose for a bottle.
- 8 - Great. Pick this up at RRP.
- 7 - Good. Happy to have a dram or two but wouldn’t buy a bottle.
- 6 - Passable. Would accept a dram, but wouldn’t seek it out.
- 5 - Poor. Would drink if it was the only option.
- 4 - Bad. Maybe it can be saved by ginger beer?
- 3 - Awful. It can't be saved by ginger beer.
- 2 - Pour it out
- 1 - We’ve never tried a whisky rated this low and hopefully never will.
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