We're starting the week with two Bruichladdichs, both distilled just after the distillery re-opened in 2001 and bottled by one of our favourite IBs, Dramfool.
Dramfool 55th Release Bruichladdich 20yo
The 55th release from Dramfool was distilled 26th of August 2002 and bottled on 11th October 20022 at 20 years old. It spent its entire maturation in a first fill bourbon barrel. 222 bottles were made available.
We're met with crystalised honey, clean barley aromas, cocoa nibs, slightly damp wood and sugared doughnuts that have been left out for a day or two. There's also a stewed orchard fruit aroma, pear chutney, the cake component from a Victoria sponge and a slight musty/earthy aroma coming towards the latter part of the nose. The alcohol is mellow for such a punchy ABV, we feel that the time spent resting in the cask has really balanced this out.
The palate begins with a mixture of bright zingy citrus mixed with a real salty, dry earth and oak flavour. It has a rich and syrupy mouthfeel reminding us of a viscous dessert wine, without the sweetness. It's quite a dry palate overall, slightly savoury but a little astringent at times. Air reveals appletiser, dark chocolate, finely ground black pepper, and sugar paper. Similar to the nose, the alcohol feels in good balance with the spirit, providing a good body but not overpowering the whisky with spice.
Nose (with water)
Reduction brings out similar honey and barely aromas, but with a touch more sweetness coming through. We're getting a slight lemony citrus tinge now, a lighter version of what we found on the undiluted palate.
Palate (with water)
With water, there's a slight smokiness that's come out. It's still very dry, but we're finding a bit more sweetness to balance. There's a touch more spice coming through now, that black pepper becoming more apparent the more you sip. There's also a much more pronounced salinity appearing towards the latter part of the palate.
We're a little split on this whisky. It shows a clean, bourbon cask-led nose with a good balance of sweetness and oak, but the palate is a little challenging. It's a bit too dry for us, although from a technical point of view it's got a great texture, good finish and great alcohol integration. Some will really appreciate the drier flavours, but for us it's not our favourite Bruichladdich. Saying that, we'd like to spend a little longer with this to see how it changes over the course of a bottle.
Dramfool 56th Release Bruichladdich 10yo Madeira Barrique
The 56th release is a 10yo Laddie that was distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2012. It wasn’t however released for sale until 24th November 2022. 220 bottles were made available.
We're met with the aroma of stewing raspberries, refined sugar, a touch of rosemary, light caramel and honeycomb. The nose is a touch restrained, pleasant, but it's tough to get a lot out of. The alcohol is nicely balanced, we're not detecting much on the nose at all. Giving it some air, we're finding cleaner vanilla aromas and flakes of sea salt added to the aforementioned caramel.
The palate begins with some rock salt, lemon jelly, dry cinnamon powder, macerated strawberries and gingerbread. The palate doesn't carry as much sweetness as we expected, and is overall quite dry. There's a tinge of smoke in the background, like you'd get from applewood chips. The mouthfeel is nice, it's got a syrup-like texture. Air brings out the flavour of orange, both the juice and a little bit of the bitter pith too.
Nose (with water)
The nose remains relatively restrained, but what we are getting shows richer aromas of burnt sugar, vanilla pods and creme caramel. There's also a slightly mustier warehouse aroma that's appearing as we let it sit in the glass.
Palate (with water)
Sweeter vanilla-led flavours of Chantilly cream and custard doughnuts. There's still a lingering dry wood and mellow pepper spice on the finish, which lasts for a good length.
We were expecting a sweeter, more madeira-forward dram, but were presented with a slightly drier, woodier whisky. That's not necessarily a bad thing, there's hints of the wine cask coming through but we're getting more of the oak and spirit. It's always interesting to try whiskies distilled close to the reopening of Bruichladdich back in 2001. A good whisky, we'd have another dram but not sure we'd grab a bottle.
- 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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