We're back in Islay looking at another one of the recent Jim McEwan Signature Collection releases, this time a Bruichladdich matured in red wine. We're also looking at a recent Valinch release, the distillery exclusive bottlings each featuring one of the hard working colleagues of Bruichladdich distillery.
Jim McEwan Signature Collection 4.1 Bruichladdich 2009 1st Fill Bordeaux Barrique, 11 Years Old
This release was distilled on 9th November 2009 and spent 11 years maturing in a 1st fill Bordeaux red wine barrique from a Château in the Pomerol Appellation. Dramfool have described the château as “A small vineyard by any standards, its vintages pack a serious punch and are sought the world over.” We can’t help but think the barrique came from Château Pétrus, but cannot confirm that.
This was Bottled in October 2021 as Release 4.1 of the Jim McEwan Signature Collection, it was bottled un-chill filtered, with no added colour, and at natural cask strength of 61.3%. 264 bottles were released.
On the nose the wine cask influence is very obvious.. we’re getting jammie dodgers, red grapes, and plums mixed with a little Islay sea breeze. Air and time reveal vanilla, white sugar, apples, cranberries and some cold butter.
You can really taste the ABV here. This is very hot, there’s lots of chilli, and it comes along with cinnamon, and grape juice. No, actually make that prune juice, and finally some toffee apple. Air reveals toasted caramel brittle, and vanilla ice cream. Good long finish on this with the heat eventually giving way to more red fruits on the finish, and a little pepper.
Nose (with water)
Reduced nose has an initial hit of salt, and after that we find ourselves nosing a glass of red wine, or more specifically a Chianti. Yes, we know it’s Italian. There’s also a sweet note of caster sugar, a little cinnamon, and some tobacco.
Palate (with water)
Like the reduced nose the palate is more salty. Water hasn’t really diminished the heat. We’re now getting a little ash, tobacco, and more sweet red fruits. As we’re drinking this we’re finding it’s also quite tannic and mouth drying.
Personally, while we enjoyed the dram we had, this is not our favourite of the Jim McEwan releases. We find that wine cask maturation can be very hit or miss for us, and for our palates this has spent too long in the cask. Saying that we do appreciate the quality of the spirit, and understand if you enjoy wine cask whiskies you’ll probably love this, in which case this would be a 8/10. For us this is a 7/10.
We've also reviewed the Octomore from this batch, you can find our thoughts on it here.
Bruichladdich Distillery Exclusive Valinch 57 - Jan Reavey
This handfill distillery exclusive release was matured for 14 years in a Sauternes cask. Jan Reavey who features on this bottling works as a personal assistant at Bruichladdich.
The nose opens with freshly buttered toasted crumpets, a touch of ash, and some oak. A little air and time reveals some salty sea air, warm porridge, dried fruits, and toasted barley. There’s also a musty/foosty note here, but we’re not finding it unpleasant.
Palate is fairly hot and spicy with red chilli that makes your lips tingle. This however is nicely balanced with sweet sugar syrup, candied nuts, and salted vanilla ice cream. We know this isn’t peated, but there’s an ashy note here. Air reveals a burnt note that comes across as overdone s’mores. This has a nice oily mouthfeel.
Nose (with water)
Reduced nose is more spicy and we’re getting burnt oak, and more foosty notes that we’ve identified as the smell from a dunnage warehouse. the sweetness has also receded. Personally, we prefer the nose without water.
Palate (with water)
Weirdly the reduced palate has gotten hotter with ethanol, and spicy red chillis. This is so hot it’s easy to imagine we’re a fire eater. Giving this some air and there’s now burnt toast, and dark butter chocolate. Again we prefer this without water. The spicy notes linger on the tongue, and back of the throat.
Without water, and for the price this is reasonable purchase if you like the distillery, but Bruichladdich offer more complex and interesting drams, and we’d rather have the latest Micro Provenance release over this.
- 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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