Day two of the Fèis Ìle takes us to Bruichladdich, where master distiller Jim McEwan will be retiring in July after 52 years in the whisky industry, a major part of them with Bowmore. He’s been with Bruichladdich since 2000, and has made the idea of terroir his signature. I’ll be seeing him in a masterclass together with Balvenie’s David Stewart and Whyte and Mackay’s Richard Patterson in October at The Whisky Show.
As for this year’s bottling, there is very little known. It’s known to be a small bottle, only 50 CL of “High Noon Black Art Valinch”. I have no other information to share about it.
If there’s one thing Bruicladdich is known for, it’s experimenting with every aspect of distilling, including the actual number of distillations. The “normal” product line is, of course, double distilled. But experimenting with a triple distillation yielded the very limited Trestarig Futures in 2011 (9600 bottles at 46%), and a quadruple distillation yielded the 4X series (4X bottled at 50%, 4X Futures at 64.6% and 4X+3 at 63.5%). On February 18th 2007, the quadruple distillation was performed on an Octomore wash (super peated, that is) and filled into Oloroso sherry butts to slumber for seven years. For bottling, it was watered down to 69.5% ABV for bottling (!!), and despite fearing that it would basically be barley vodka, it’s clearly a whisky, and a very good one at that.
Bruichladdich Octomore Discovery, 7 Year Old, Quadruple Distilled on 18.2.2007, Yield 1695 bottles (69.5% ABV, NCF, NC)
Appearance: Amber, tiny thin legs form very slowly, drops barely moving.
Nose: Smoked ham and new make notes, honey and vanilla, clothes after coming home from sitting around a bonfire. Water makes the new spirit notes dissipate and the peat asserts itself over the smoked meat. Curiously, the spirit and Oloroso sherry casks interact differently, and none of the classic sherry notes are to be found in the spirit.
Palate: Liquid fire, the body of the whisky is almost unsubstantial in the mouth. Velvety and extremely smooth, there is smoke, but it’s almost secondary to the mouth feel. The sherry comes in a bit and is mouth drying.
Linger: Short in mouth, hot in stomach. Light smoke on the palate for a flash, then gone, leaving a dryness in the mouth.
This is different than any single malt I had before. Fascinating stuff!!