AFTER polishing off a 20cl bottle of The Laddie Ten and sinking a cheeky wee Octomore down the pub, I thought it was time to get to know Bruichladdich a little bit better. So, earlier this month I picked out eight whiskies from the distillery's extensive range, logged on to Master of Malt, and ordered a tinkling batch of 3cl samples.
Over the next four entries, I'll be telling you what I thought about this band of bottles and we kick start this four-parter with two crackers: The Bruichladdich 10 year old - The Laddie Ten and the Bruichladdich Scottish Barley - The Classic Laddie. Ready? Then off we go!
The Laddie Ten - 46%
On the nose, the very first aroma that wafted my way was a freshly unwrapped Tunnock's Caramel Log (I kid you not). Once I got over this rather surprising - and delicious - scent, I noticed a lot more going on under the surface.
There was green twigs, drying hay, honey, celery salt, liquorice, butter icing, waxy paper, rum & raisin ice-cream, spearmint and the damp, earthy smell of mushrooms (!).
After leaving it to settle down in the glass for another 15 minutes, that celery note became even stronger - as if master distiller Jim McEwan had stirred the brew with a stick of the stuff before it was bottled. An incredibly interesting nose.
On the palate, The Laddie Ten was salty and sweet, with seaweed-infused liquorice, a drizzle of honey and a slight dribble of golden syrup, while the finish brought forward white pepper, sea spray, baked lemon and creamy milk chocolate. That celery note still lingers around, though, and the intriguing seaweed note returns to round off a thoroughly unusual but lovely dram.
The Classic Laddie - 50%
The nose of The Classic Laddie was quite restrained at first, but after giving it a little time, malty custard cream biscuits appeared, along with baked red apple slices, salted caramel, Edinburgh rock and the merest whiff of brown bread.
A splash of water brought some smoke to the party and helped coax out some fruit notes, including dried cranberries.
The palate had a wonderful oily mouth feel and it's packed with honey and golden syrup sweetness.
Waves of caramel washed over my tongue, accompanied by hints of golden caster sugar. Water brought out wood notes and some liquorice, but I have to say that I preferred this dram neat - even at 50%.
The finish was really quite lovely, with delicious fruit notes dancing across the back of my tongue, along with freshly brewed espresso, white pepper, a little sea salt and some chewy black liquorice.
Not a bad start, then, and if push came to shove, I would plump for a bottle of The Classic Laddie over the increasingly hard to find 10 year old.