Rock’ndaal 02.1 & Rock’ndaal 02.2


We've got this years instalments of Bruichladdich's festival bottles, Rock'ndaal 02.1 and 02.2. Unlike last years blend of their 3 spirit types, we've got distinct Bruichladdich and Port Charlotte bottlings.

    Rock’ndaal 02.1

    Region: Islay

    ABV: 50.0%

    Price: £135.00

    Rock’ndaal 02.1 is a 16 year old Bruichladdich that was matured in a combination of bourbon and Sauternes casks. 2,500 bottles were released.

    Nose

    The nose opens with shortbread dusted in sugar mixed with lemon zest, dried mango slices, green apple skin and a touch of apricot. Surprisingly it’s quite hot on the nose, there’s an alcohol spice that stops us getting as deep into the glass as we’d like. We’re also finding some old oak furniture, honeycomb, fresh lime zest and sweetened vanilla cream. There’s a mustiness that’s quite apparent, along with some ground ginger spice and melon.

    Palate

    The palate greets us with a mixture of salt and sugar, made up from honeyed peaches, salted caramel, tangerine juice, tinned apricot moving into relatively dry (and slightly astringent) oak. The mouthfeel is fine, it begins relatively viscous but dissipates quite quickly on the palate, and the finish lasts a fair while, with honey roast cashews, 85% dark chocolate and a little roasted pineapple too. Time and air reveals an earthiness, sugar coated mint leaves, melon and an increased minerality.

    Nose (with water)

    Reduction brings out lots more honey and caramel, along with more orange and some vanilla essence. Behind this we’re still met with those fresher orchard and tropical fruits. The spice has mellowed and overall we’re enjoying the nose more with a splash of water.

    Palate (with water)

    The reduced palate has a burst of citrus upfront, oranges, lemons, moving into lychee and melon. There’s some toffee in the background, artificially sweetened chocolate sauce and crushed hazelnuts. The spice has mellowed and we’re getting more of a gentle ginger heat which is quite pleasant. The astringent finish has also all but disappeared. Much better.

    Conclusion

    There are some nice tropical and zesty notes on the nose here, and the palate follows through in a similar vein with more of the sweeter tropical flavours, however it’s just a bit too dry for us. The finish is a little too astringent for us, and we’re also feeling a bit let down with the mouthfeel. Water does improve both the nose and palate, so we’d recommend adding a few splashes. We love Laddie but this falls a bit short of the mark for us. Some may enjoy it more but we’re going with a 6/10 (if you add water).

    Score: 6/10

    Value

    It’s not cheap, but what 16yo Laddie is these days? Probably in line with market prices.

    Rock’ndaal 02.2

    Region: Islay

    ABV: 50.0%

    Price: £165.00

    Rock’ndaal 02.2 is a 16 year old Port Charlotte that was matured in a combination of refill wine casks and sherry butts. 2,500 bottles were released.

    Nose

    We’re met with sweet peat, wasabi peas, pickled ginger, marzipan, salty sea air and slightly burnt caramel. There’s also some roasted nuts, turmeric and forest floor aromas appearing. The alcohol feels well balanced here, there’s very little alcohol punch on the nose. Time and air reveals some more malty, cereal notes, along with mellow dark fruit notes, blackcurrants, dates and strawberries dipped in dark chocolate.

    Palate

    The palate has a lovely texture, it’s like melted chocolate, with a similar hit of sweetened cocoa, fresh earth and sweet vanilla ice cream. The smoke is here, but it’s very mellow compared to what we expected. The alcohol balances nicely with the spirit, with a light ginger spice lingering into the medium to long finish. We’re also finding candied pecans, mocha, a touch of salt and caramel shortcake. We’re also finding a little tobacco and sultanas as we go back for another sip.

    Nose (with water)

    The reduced nose is slightly richer, slightly nuttier and slightly oakier, but not in an overpowering way. The peat really takes a back seat here, giving the dram more earthy, warm notes and letting the sweet oak shine through. It’s a little mustier now, along with more of those earthy, dried tea leaves aromas appearing.

    Palate (with water)

    The reduced palate loses a little of the texture we loved pre-dilution, but there’s still some viscosity here. We’re getting lots of caramel and fudge now, wisps of peat and some dark chocolate and coffee on the finish. It’s creamier overall, making it a bit too easy to drink.

    Conclusion

    We can really see how age mellows the punchy peat we usually expect from Port Charlotte - this is super easy drinking. The nose has a good balance of sweet peat and nuttier/richer aromas, and the palate follows in the same vein. Both the nose and palate are very well balanced and it’s really quite lovely. If you’re looking for a Port Charlotte to knock your socks off with big, bold sherry, wine and peat influences, this isn’t it, however if you’re looking for a more subtle, nuanced dram, this is a great option.

    Score: 7/10

    Value

    Again, not cheap but not out of line with market prices for a Port Charlotte of this age.

    • 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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