Bladnoch is back! Australian David Prior (famous for five:am yoghurt fact fans) bought the liquidated Lowland distillery in 2015, installed a raft of new equipment and is now looking to fully reboot production with a first new Bladnoch possibly arriving in 2020. But, whilst we have to wait until then to try the new Bladnoch, we can try some of the old Bladnoch right now.
Celebrating the 'rebirth' of the distillery, Prior along with Master Distiller Ian MacMillan of Burn Stewart fame have created a triptych of Bladnoch releases using liquid already held in the distillery warehouses. Samara, Adela 15 year old & Talia 25 year old are the fruits of this labour. Today we'll be looking at Samsara.
An NAS bottling, but logically should be at least a minimum of 8 years old given that the last liquid distilled at Bladnoch was in 2008.
Nose: Do you remember the jars of rhubarb and custard boiled sweets as a child. Yeah those. Seriously. Rich and interesting with both ripe red fruits and stewed fruits coming together in a sweet and fairly pronounced nose. There's nothing on the bottle or website, but I'm certainly detecting some use of wine casks here. Going a bit deeper, pineapple, vanilla, baked goods and natural honey.
Taste: Again, that wine or even a port cask hint is there. I'm convinced - correct me if I'm wrong! Alongside those stewed, sugary fruits we're now getting more of a sense of herbalness - menthol, eucalyptus and a certain mineral sharpness. Fairly viscous in mouth feel. Wow, this is quite different for a Lowlander. Quite balanced overall, especially for the pokey ABV.
Finish: The sharpness passes away gently and we're back into rhubarb and custard sweets again (yay!). A medium length, with the spicing matching up nicely to the obvious sweetness from jammy fruits, but hammering home a discernible oak note.
This is most surprising for a Lowlander. The nose is great, a real treat, and for me a blast back to my childhood and the scents of boiled sweets in glass jars. The integration and balance is overall solid, though note quite as successful as that nose. Overall, it's a little experimental, but that's no bad thing at all. Solid stuff and with a good ABV to boot. If you consider this as Bladnoch 1.5 I'm looking forward to the 2.0 version greatly.Score: 83/100