Since its rebirth in 2000, the philosophy at Bruichladdich has been one of pushing the boundaries of whisky. The distillery has championed higher bottling strengths, experimented with cask and barley selection, employed innovative cask selection and demonstrated just what's possible with phenol manipulation. Bruichladdich have also taken an open minded approach to non-age statement whisky, but then in some ways they've had to given their rapid ascension in the whisky world ranks over the past decade.
In 2011 Bruichladdich released the Laddie 10 year old. Designed to be a permanent age statement entry level whisky in their range, it was met with critical acclaim - and a clamour for bottles. So much so, that the distillery felt unable to sustain the output required to keep the bottling on the shelves as their core expression. This necessitated a move back into NAS and the resulting whisky The Classic Laddie Scottish Barley was released around 2013. Still with the higher ABV of 50%, still non-chill filtered and naturally coloured....still with the bright baby blue bottle. Let's take a look.
Nose: Sweet barley is certainly discernable, mixed with a degree of hay and damp earth. Toffee apples, grapes, butter and something akin to pancakes or dough. Both sweet and savoury.
Taste: Gentler arrival than the 50% ABV might have suggested. Candied fruits, particularly orange, but apples still there too. Fairly strong 'green note' in the form of a leafy earthiness or green bell peppers - akin to something you might taste in a younger white wine. Not challenging, but completely pleasant.
Finish: Astringency is quite high so expect a dry finish.
I tried this on a warm summery day and that's probably the very best time for it. The Classic Laddie is a light, generally delicate whisky which certainly does allow the barley to shine through. Not nearly as young as some NAS releases and, I suspect, in possession of a few older malts to smooth off the edges. This does exactly what is says on the tin.