Editor’s Note: This whisky was provided to us as a review sample by Bruichladdich. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.
Bruichladdich is beginning to feel like that annoying Straight-A student who can’t seem to get anything wrong. From big, full-bodied and peaty whiskies to more mellow yet still highly complex home grown scotches, they’re doing it right. The distillery is even putting out a gin that has most gin lovers raising eyebrows on the first sip. While the distillery has been around for more than a hundred years, the new owners have been there for less than twenty. Yet they are producing world-renowned products! I think we’re ready to start a slow clap, please.
They wouldn’t be a world class distillery without some world class limited releases. Bruichladdich Black Art is a revival and a glorious showcasing of what was before the new era of Bruichladdich. The liquid was distilled before the new owners took over the distillery but is brought to you by Adam Hannet, who trained under Jim McEwan. It takes an impressive amount of work, confidence and experience to blend together enough casks to create 18,000 bottles of 26 year old scotch. This is the sixth version of this type of project and Adam’s second. It reflects the growth process Adam has felt under Jim’s wing as he became the new master distiller.
I’m not a huge fan of the secret identity behind the branding. I think there is little excitement in hiding the facts in this situation. It is possible they don’t know everything about it and play off that for the ‘mystery’ appeal. I doubt that, however, because the mystery appeal is a strong one for many. Nonetheless, an extremely mature scotch lives inside a sleek and mythical bottle. Whisky like this is special. If you come across something like this and you can afford it to try it, you get to experience history and progress all in one.
Once again, a round of applause is necessary for our Hebridean Distillers.
Bruichladdich Black Art 1990 Edition 06.1 (image via Bruichladdich)
Tasting Notes: Bruichladdich Black Art 1990 Edition 06.1
Vital Stats: Cask Strength at 46.9% ABV, 1990 vintage at 26 years old, 100% unpeated malted barley, matured on Islay, non-chill filtered, only 18,000 bottles produced. $350-$420 for a 750mL at limited availability.
Appearance: Sleek, mystical bottle design that makes you think of a magical world where amazing scotch comes from. The liquid itself is a glow of sunset orange.
Nose: Aromatic malt that reaches your nose even as the glass sits on the table. Black cherries, ripe bananas, green pears and other stone fruit. Spicy butterscotch and burnt orange peel. White chocolate, nutmeg and leathery depth.
Palate: Wood is definitely present, but is more balanced than expected given the age. The play between whisky and wood is a powerful one, with a lot of flavor and character behind it. It is a dance of savory vanilla, tingling spice and sweet dark fruits. A bit of sour dairy is present which I often get in single malts that I really enjoy, and it is paired with black berries and currants like a nice dessert. The baking spice element and kick from the alcohol reminds you the age and strength, but you’re left with a desiring finish of caramel, malt, red fruit some tropical feelings and a bit of vanilla cake.
There's more happening here than I'm able to describe in writing, or maybe than I'm able to comprehend with my palate. It evolves as it opens up and with each sip. I think everyone will get something special from this whisky. It will be surprising if anyone can find it short of amazing as well, because it is truly an extraordinary example of craftsmanship and quality. If you can afford to buy a bottle, do it. And then share it with your friends to see what they think. This whisky is history, entrepreneurialship, and art all in one. Wonderful.
After graduating with an engineering degree in Colorado, Cameron Holck discovered his passion for hospitality. He followed his love of the outdoors into the Pacific Northwest where he continues his dedication to bartending, and as a sales representative for Four Roses Bourbon. He warmly welcomes the fact that a night...