Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Whiskey Wednesday: Smoke-Free Islay

Islay, of course, is an island off the west coast of Scotland, known among malt fanatics as the vaunted producer of such peated Scotches as Lagavulin, Laphroaig, Ardbeg, Bowmore and Caol Ila. But Islay has always had a less smoky side, represented chiefly by Bruichladdich and Bunnahabhain. Caol Ila, as well, is now making a delightful non-peated malt.

Lately, however, the formerly non-peated Bruichladdich seems to be vying for the title of master of peat. First they issued the peated 3D, then their well reviewed Port Charlotte series, and now, they are on the cusp of releasing Octomore, billed as the most heavily peated Scotch ever.

With all of this smoke (mirrors anyone?), it's sometimes hard to remember that Bruichladdich used to be known as one of the lowest peated whiskies on the peatey island of Islay. Indeed, this prolific distillery still produces a number of low-peat items, and we will try one of those today.


Bruichladdich 15 years old, Second Edition, non-chill filtered, no color added, 46% alcohol ($79.99).

This is a rockin' good malt. I thought it would be milder, blander, but it's rugged and complex, with good wood, malt, a pinch of salt and just the slightest trace of smoke...very maritime. I'd compare it to Old Pulteney. The mouthfeel is heavy and dense, in an interesting way. This stuff is anything but light, but it's darn good. I may have to dig deeper into the vast selection of 'Laddies.

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