Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Whiskey Wednesday: The United Colors of Bruichladdich

You need a scorecard to keep up with the output from Bruichladdich these days. The proudly independent Islay distillery puts out dozens of whiskies per year and seems to be increasing their output. They have expressions that are peated, unpeated, sherried, Bourbon matured, wine finished and pretty much everything else you can think of, mostly in their distinct "dumpy" bottles, sometimes with elaborate designs or opaque coloring.

Today we will try two of the more visually striking new Bruichladdichs: Resurrection and Black Art.

Bruichladdich's The Resurrection Dram is a seven year old whisky. The name refers to the resurrection of the distillery which was closed in 1995 and reopened, under new ownership, in 2001. The Resurrection Dram was distilled right after the reopening, in October 2001. It maintains the traditional lightly peated Bruichladdich profile. It is 46% abv and goes for around $80.

The nose on this is malt and fruit juice with some light peat. The palate begins with a pure, sweet, malty flavor with some grass then some slight sherry. Midpalate the peat sets in. For a fairly light peating level, the peat is noticeable throughout, though it doesn't dominate. Malt is the key characteristic here. It's not an overly complex malt, but not an unpleasant one either. A good, light drinker.

Bruichladdich Black Art 1989 is a 19 year old whisky bottled at 51.1% abv and available for $150. It is finished in a combination of different wine casks, the specific nature of which the distillery is not revealing. The bottle styling is similar to the very popular sherry aged Blacker Still. Cynics may wonder whether they are using the bottle design to capitalize off of the reputation of Blacker Still in selling this new, unrelated malt. I never tried Blacker Still, so I'm afraid I won't be able to compare.

Nose is dry sherry or port with some plums and raisins. It really retains that dry wine note on the palate. There are port like flavors and even some Zinfandel and other tannic red wines with just a slight bit of sweetness. As you sip on, there are layers of flavors here that include chocolate, orange and a bit of tin; the mouthful is syrupy. The finish is all port. It's and interesting mix of wine flavors that shows great promise, but it's a bit flat on the palate; a hint more sweetness would add some needed depth. Still, I keep drinking this and chewing over the flavor; it's definitely holding my interest.

Both of these are fine malts, but neither blew me away. Do you have a favorite Bruichladdich?

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