Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal 03.1 & Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal 03.2


We're looking at the 3rd instalment of Bruichladdich's Rock'ndaal series, their releases for  Fèis Ìle 2024.

Bruichladdich Rock’ndaal 03.1

Region: Islay

ABV: 50.0%

Price: £100.00

Distilled in 2013, the spirit initially matured in bourbon casks. From 2017 to 2023, it was recasked into a unique combination of Sauternes casks (12.5%), Austrian dessert wine casks (12.5%), and ex-brandy casks from Fernando de Castilla, Spain, which had previously held Pedro Ximénez Sherry (75%). Before bottling, the spirit was married in ex-bourbon casks. This limited edition release consists of 3,000 bottles.

Nose

The nose opens with creamy vanilla frosting, freshly baked cupcakes, moving into a slightly richer raisin fudge, grape must and light caramel notes towards the latter part of the nose. There's an underlying salinity to the dram that compliments a lot of these sweeter aromas, and as we continue to nose we're also finding apricot, red apple skins, a hint of dried mango and a little honeycomb too.

Palate

The palate begins with a burst of lemon, akin to lemon bon bons, moving quickly to sweet confectioners sugar, ripe apricot and pineapple, and mango puree. The finish then moves into richer, nuttier flavours of candied almonds, toasted oak and some grapefruit bitterness right at the end. It still manages to hold a lot of its sweetness throughout the finish though. The mouthfeel is a touch thinner than we'd like, but it's a very flavourful dram nonetheless. In a similar vein to the nose, there's still a slight minerality/salinity that underlies the palate.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has a biscuitier, maltier note coming through at the beginning, following into something a little toasty, then some peaches in syrup to round off the nose. More subtle than the unreduced nose, lighter in vanilla with softer fruits showing up for us.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate is slightly woodier up front, toffee and chocolate biscuits, however it quickly moves back into the sweet, fruity profile we experienced before. The tropical fruit has taken on more of a dried quality now, a touch richer in profile. The finish maintains the sweet, fruity nature and it's still very easy to drink.

Conclusion

The nose of the dram feels quite well integrated for the numerous cask types used, not one of the additional maturation casks are overpowering the other, although there's quite a strong bourbon backbone to the whisky. The palate, however, is much more wine cask forward, lots of sweet fruits and citrus nodding towards the Sauternes and Austrian dessert wines used. One for a sweeter palate, it's quite tasty but we'd like a slightly creamier mouthfeel.. perhaps a cask strength version would have the body we're looking for?

Score: 7.5/10

Value

£100 for a 10yo release definitely seems on the pricey side.


Port Charlotte Rock’ndaal 03.2

Region: Islay

ABV: 54.0%

Price: £225.00

Distilled in 2004 from 100% Scottish barley peated to 40ppm, this whisky was matured for 20 years in a combination of bourbon casks (70%) and first-fill Sauternes casks (30%). A total of 1,500 bottles were released.

Nose

The nose opens with an incredibly creamy peat smoke, it's a mixture of gentle log fires, slightly over-baked buttery french pastries, dustings of icing sugar and soft peaches in the background. The age has really taken the heavy peat smoke and brought it well in line with the softer, fruiter flavours from the Sauternes casks. There's freshly cut mango slices, and something slightly musty and fermented right in the background, it reminds us of fermented apricots, as if someone was making a batch of homemade apricot wine.

Palate

The palate has a powerful mixture of ashy peat and brown sugar sweetness, with a real warming alcohol backbone. The alcohol balance is really quite impressive, it manages to give a subtle ginger spice with a hint of lemon, that lingers throughout but compliments the other flavours very well. Going back, we're finding tangerines, cinder toffee, more dried mango and apricot, and a bit of runny honey on the finish. The mouthfeel is nice, a good texture, and the finish lasts for a fair while, with a mixture of charred oak, raisin cake, ashy peat and tropical fruits all mingling together.

Nose (with water)

The reduced nose has more of the bourbon character at the forefront, fudge, toffee, a little tar from the peat, but as we go deeper into the glass we're finding a lot more of those tropical fruits from the Sauternes maturation. It's a littler breadier, cakier, with fondant icing and malt biscuits too.

Palate (with water)

The reduced palate is a bit zingier up front, candied orange peel, juice, and ashy, bonfire peat smoke appear. As the palate develops, it's definitely fruitier, but we're finding the smoke a lot more prominent now, it's engulfing our palates completely. There's a touch more peppery spice, it's warmer now, but still maintains a nice alcohol balance overall.

Conclusion

We've had a few of these older, 18-20 year old Port Charlottes now, and we can safely say that the spirit takes well to the late teens age statement. This particular release has a lot of Sauternes influence which gives a uniquely fruity and sweet twist on the Port Charlotte spirit character, and this is a combination we're really quite enjoying. We could nit pick at this dram, slightly too bitter on the finish for us, but it's really good whisky so we're just going to drink it instead.

Score: 8.5/10

Value

It's definitely not cheap, but unfortunately, these older Port Charlotte releases usually aren't.

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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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