Travel retail can sometimes be rather overwhelming. You’ve got a long journey ahead of you, a plane to catch and a seeming sea of whiskies you’ve never heard of - where do you start? Whilst the variety of airport-only whiskies has exploded, the overall quality has, in my opinion, fallen rather dramatically over the last few years. A bevy of marketing-led bottles have filled airport shelves to appeal to weary travels who have money in their pocket but little time on their hands. These bottles tend to work on the presumption the most travellers will be susceptible to slick packaging and fancy Scottish-sounding names rather than actual quality whiskies. But, there are exceptions and gems out there still. Let’s look at one.
Our review of The Classic Laddie highlighted that Bruichladdich have been unable to sustain output sufficiently to keep the Laddie 10 year old on the shelves as a permanent core expression. It's therefore interesting that Bruichladdich decided to go down the age statement route with the latest travel retail Laddie - The Laddie Eight. The Laddie Eight year old comes in at Bruichladdich's high standard bottling strength of 50% ABV, it's also unchill-filtered and naturally coloured. All these things make it stand out in a travel retail space oft-times more interested in fancy names and fancy packaging.
Nose: A mashup of sharp briney maritime notes, orchard apples and fresh beehive honey. Farmyard aromas at play in the form of hay bale and a degree of earthiness. A hint of rhubarb custard even?! The sweeter notes are quite warming and almost wine-like, but played off against a mineral/stone-like quality.
Taste: An oily and full mouthfeel. Very garden greenhouse with both fruits and vegetables. On the fruit side, apples, pears and maybe a hint of sourness from citrus and grapefruits. On the more vegetal side, green peppers with grassy notes and floral undertones. Sweetness is present and comes again from honey. There’s a certain rancio and an implication of slight wine cask influence. Still pretty mineral which makes for quite a lively crisp dram.
Finish: Short to medium length and favouring the wood elements now - pepper, ginger and nice salty sharpness.
This is a brave effort by Bruichladdich. Travel retail is chock-a-block full of marketing-led NAS bottlings, so to present a straight forward eight year old whisky in this market should be both commended, and on the quality of the bottling, supported. An intriguing mix of seaside with farmyard which can’t make up its mind which it would rather be, but is all the better for that.