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Water of Life – Whisky Company & Bruichladdich

Being a whisky aficionado on terra australis can be challenging at times, specifically when it comes to sourcing drops from the old world. With orders from overseas being subjected to extortionate taxes, it is vitally important to have a local, trusted distributor that continuous delivers the goods when it comes to expertly sourcing the best quality single malt whiskies at a competitive price.

This is where the Whisky Company comes into play.

Founded by Craig and Katherine Merson, a pair with Scottish roots and immense knowledge of whisky, they are not out there to merely convert the uninitiated but based on your preferences, aim to assist in pointing you in the right direction and helping to find a bottle that tickles your fancy to set you on a course of discovery and global adventure.

Given Whisky Company’s love for experiences, expectations were high when a Bruichladdich Scotch Whisky Virtual Tasting Event was announced, especially since Chloe Wood was going to be involved, a never not charming luminary in the field of whisky and Islay at large, who hosted the tasting via Zoom directly from Glasgow.

With Chloe having grown up merely a few miles from Port Charlotte on the mecca of whisky, i.e. the isle of Islay in Scotland, and having been actively involved with Bruichladdich all of her professional life, there could not have been a more suitable guide.

Flanked by Bruichladdich Brand Representative Andy Buntine, who represents the distillery in Australia, we were off to an immensely engaging and fun evening with knowledge being dropped left, right and centre on history and production through to character, flavours and aromas of the Bruichladdich range, all the while accentuating the romance of the story and brand.

Starting out with the Bruichladdich’s honeyed and florally sweet Classic Laddie and the delicately peated Port Charlotte expressions, which we have covered in granular detail before, the first highlight was presented in form of the archaic Bere Barley expression: With Bere Barley having less yield and therefore more emphasis on barley flavours, it is as expected more vibrant on the nose with pears, vanilla, apples and oranges being on the forefront aroma-wise.

I love the distillate-driven mouthfeel and the chocolatey, earthy flavours, which seamlessly transition to spicy, dried fruity flavours and oaky vanilla finish with citrus reverberating. Definitely need to secure myself a bottle for the collection.

The highlight of the evening for Bruichladdich aficionados like myself was to get a taste of Port Charlotte Valinch, expressions of which are getting more and more difficult to come by.

What Bruichladdich’s head distiller Adam Hannett has channelled his alchemy in here is clocking in at over 60% ABV and what stings the nostrils is what I would described as a marriage of toffee and peat, accentuated by a biscuity and berry rich sweetness that sits against a backbone of coffee and bacon with nutty overtones peppered in. It evoked a Pavlovian response with me.

On the top of the mouth, the sweetness of the cask comes through, with sherry notes pervading black pepper, charcoal ash, coffee beans, wet soil and fruity peat flavour profiles.

The elongated finish culminates in an exquisite and warm gingery crescendo, which leaves one lusting for another dram.

An interesting factotum was to learn that Bruichladdich has started a campaign to reduce their overall carbon footprint and an initiative to send bottles out without tins, which demonstrates not only the endeavour to their commitment to sustainability.

Being a hopeless smoke and peat head, I sneakily saved the sample of Octomore 11.1 for last.

With Bruichladdich’s yearly Octomore releases having earned a reputation as peat bombs, it was interesting to see that with the 11 series, they dialled back the phenol parts per million component a bit, which allows for other nuances to shine through in a more prominent manner , e.g. Scottish mainland barley flavours. An example par excellence for Bruichladdich’s emphasis on provenance and terroir.

On the nose the 11.1 convinces with not only the tested and tried peat aromas but a complex flavour profile comprised of eucalyptus, vanilla and brine.

What materializes on the palate in the most delicious oily manner are vanilla notes unfold backed by a slight alcohol burn and accentuated by peppery, orangey and zesty highlights. Peat smoke sits in the middle and revibrates throughout without completely taking over, which results in a delicious and dynamic profile. In essence, I’d go as far as saying that the Octomore 11 series is one of the accessible ones, especially for the uninitiated looking to work themselves into the glorious realm of Octomore.

I cannot wait for the 2021 Fèis Ìle expressions and the Octomore 12 series, which will hopefully see the light of day later this year.


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May 15, 2021

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