We’re at the halfway point of the 2018 Boutique-y Whisky Advent calendar and it’s time to visit the self-styled ‘bad boys of Islay’ in the form of Bruichladdich 13 year old Batch 11. Provenance and transparency are important to the Laddie chaps – and why not, who doesn’t like to know as much about what they’re consuming as possible? This Boutique-y release therefore feels a bit anomalous in that regard, as there’s something I’m detecting wood-wise which is not specified on the label.
Whilst Boutique-y introduced age-statements to all their releases two years back, to date, they’ve not taken the decision to indicate cask maturations and compositions. Normally, isn’t a topic for discussion - an ex-bourbon cask is quite clearly an ex-bourbon cask. However, in this instance, I’d be quite staggered if this was the case - I’m strongly detecting the influence of wine barrels on this Bruichladdich.
Knowing the distillery’s range well, this doesn’t seem out of kilter - past Master Distiller Jim McEwan brewed up a whole host of wine influenced expressions during his tenure and current head bod Adam Hannett doesn’t seem to have deviated too far from this type of experimentation. Either way, it would be good to know – perhaps it’s time that Boutique-y considered cask transparency as well as age on their labelling?
This 11th batch of Boutique-y Bruichladdich comes from a release of 478 bottled. It’s delivered at 47.6% ABV and costs £76.95 from Master of Malt.
Nose: Bruichladdich funkiness delivered on two levels – sweet and slightly sticky farmyard + oaked red wine. The two combine to manifest themselves into rhubarb and custard sweets with hay barns. Time in the glass diminishes both, but they’re still always present. Running throughout are pronounced tropical aromas – pineapple and banana alongside an earthy/mineral vein – wet limestone and clay. In the background some feint garden florals and herbs – freshly cut. The addition of water adds putty and earthenware along with melon and lychee.
Taste: Fruits and rocks. The arrival has good body and delivers pineapple chunks and orange peels sharped by granite and graphite. The mid to back palate expresses the cask influence with pepper spice and gentle charred cask ends. This develops progressively through sharpness into farmyard with a touch of lactic acid and a further trip down the funky farm. Reduction turns everything up a notch with increased fruitiness and minerality along with both creaminess and overt wine notes.
Finish: Medium and highly mineral with rocky outcrops and pebbles. It fades consistently and pleasantly into spiced orange zest.
The more time I spend with this Boutique-y Bruichladdich the more I’m convinced that a wine cask has been involved. That tends to divide the crowd (me included), but on this occasion, regardless of the cask, the outcome is highly successful. An excellent marriage of fruits, minerals and funkiness and highly tasty to boot. Really good juice.
Review calendar provided by Boutique-y Whisky