Bruichladdich made a huge splash last year with the release of the Laddie 10, the first ten year old malt distilled after Bruichladdich was reopened in 2001. The new malt was given year end awards by both Ralfy
and Whisky Advocate. We in the states didn't have a chance at the malt last year, but it's finally arrived on our shores.
The Laddie 10 (Bruichladdich), 10 years old 46% abv ($55)
For part of the unpeated line, the nose on this is immediately peaty, though not in an overwhelming way, and a bit acidic with some fruity notes, maybe even a hint of sherry. The palate also comes on peat forward with a sweet malty backup. The finish is peaty and yeasty. The peat in this is immediately recognizable though certainly lighter than a heavily peated whisky. The character is more of coal than smoke, and there's plenty of sweetness to keep it in balance.
This is a very nice malt, but it doesn't strike me as the stuff of awards. Because of their independent, fighting spirit and the fact that they reopened a closed distillery, I think all of us whisky fans root for Bruichladdich, and that sentiment surely goes into some of the recognition they get. As I said, this is a very good malt. Sweet with medium peating, it's quite drinkable, but there is not much in the way of complexity. As a standard 10 year old, though, this may be exactly what is intended, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a peated but not ashtray-sucking flavor profile.
This is not the first expression Bruichladdich has put out from its own distillate; several years ago, they released the Resurrection Dram, a seven year old. Since I still had some left from a previous review, I did a head to head. As one might expect, the Resurrection Dram is a bit more raw and stronger tasting, though they have the same abv. Resurrection is more syrupy and fruity while the Laddie 10 has more peat (which may indicate that they are not the same composition, since if they were, you would think the younger version would have stronger peat). I'd say they are of equal quality but quite different in flavor profile.
The Laddie 10 is surely an accomplishment, but I'm not as ga-ga over it as the rest of the whisky world. I expect that it will settle down and take its place among the very good standard expressions. As the whisky continues to age, it will be interesting to see what other standard age expressions Bruichladdich adds to the lineup.