Ever since our visit to the Bruichladdich distillery (our favorite on Islay), we have been obsessed with acquiring Port Charlotte. On trips abroad, I will seek out and pick up any travel-exclusive Port Charlotte cask finish that I can get my hands on (MRC, MC, and CC being the latest addition to our growing Port Charlotte collection). I also have my eye on getting an Octomore. As far as unpeated whiskies, the unpeated Classic Laddie (which is typically made from Scottish Barley) tends to be a favorite when visiting the American Express Lounge in SFO (San Francisco Airport) due to their more limited selection of scotch.
The fun thing about Bruichladdich is their experimental side and there have been several attempts at showcasing different types of barley malt in their unpeated lines, ranging from whiskies made from Bere barley (one of the oldest cereals and perhaps the one used for the first whiskies), an organic barley from Mid Coul in Scotland, an Islay barley, and a Scottish barley (their standard release as the “Classic Laddie”).
The Islay barley changes year-to-year, and the more recent 2011 edition features Islay from 6 Islay farms and the marriage of several cask editions. Alas, I was not aware that there was a difference between the years and purchased the miniature “Wee Laddie Tasting Set” with the 2007 editions so that I could taste the difference between Islay and Scottish barleys. The 2007 edition is American oak maturation only and features barley from a single Islay farm (Rockside Farm).
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2007
- Score - 6.5/106.5/10
Nose: Some light salt. Hay, malt, very light hint of berries, citrus & grapefruit.
Palate: Vanilla, some sea salt and chocolate smoke woven throughout. Oranges. It’s powerful due to the proof (but not hot) – yet the tastes are all very subtle and “sheer” feeling.
Medium finish. Leaves a pleasant soot and grapefruit aftertaste.
6.5/10. Good whisky.
TLDR: Soft and strong.
Overall: Good – but I prefer the Scottish barley (Classic Laddie), which has a lot more complexity and salinity. I also wish I tried the 2011 edition with the marriages of Sauternes and wine casks. I bet that one is delicious.
Bought for: ~$60/miniature set at Jackson’s Wine & Spirits in Lafayette, CA
- ABV: 50%
- Cask: American oak
- Age: No Age Statement
- 100% Islay barley and using Islay spring water
- Non-chill filtered, coloring free
- Bruichladdich was our favorite distillery tour on Islay (read more about our visit here). It is also the largest private employer on Islay (even more than Laphroaig or Lagavulin) due to its reliance on manpower versus machines.
- It is famous for its Octomore line, which is known for having extremely high peat levels – even up to 200 to 300 ppm (its 08.3 has 309 ppm). Its peated Port Charlotte line is 40 ppm.
- Prides itself on being highly experimental and for trying to feature terroir (even releasing a “terroir-ed” gin called Botanist)
- Built in 1881 but mothballed in 2000 – before it was purchased by its fan and aficionado Mark Reynier. Now owned by Remy Cointreau.