Bruichladdich Pulls Out Some Old Scotch Whiskies For Retail

Scotland’s Bruichladdich distillery, like so many others in this part of the whisk(e)y loving world, has at its disposal aging warehouses which can contain some older barrels of maturing whisky. Now and again some of this rarer stock is deemed ready for drinking, as is the case with three new expressions brought forth for your consideration.

The new Bruichladdich Rare Cask Series, according to those behind it, represent in some cases the work of three generations of distillers who have made and patiently watched over the whiskies as they aged in barrel. The first three bottlings come from casks that were distilled in 1984, 1985 and 1986, respectively, and each is a different type of wood on top of that.

The first, the 1984, was first put into refill ex-bourbon barrels and hogsheads in its namesake year. In 2008 then master distiller Jim McEwan moved it into first fill bourbon barrels for the remainder of its aging time. This now 32-year-old expression, bottled at 43.7% ABV, was drawn from the last 12 casks of 1984, and is limited to just 3,000 bottles for retail.

The next whisky, the 1985, is also a 32-year-old expression that’s been bottled at 48.7% ABV and is limited to just 4,200 bottles. It was first matured in refill bourbon casks until 2012, when it was then recasked into first fill bourbon casks. It also got one final brief additional maturation this year in “premium” French oak before being sent to market.

Joining the 1984 and 1985 as the final of the three releases is the 44.6% ABV 1986. This whisky was aged some 30 years and is considered a sherry bomb, having first been matured in Oloroso sherry casks until 2012, at which time it was transferred to PX sherry casks from Fernando de Castilla.

“These rare, old single malts are a direct link to our past, to the men who made truly special spirit here while facing very different circumstances to those which we enjoy today,” said head Bruicladdich distiller Adam Hannett in a prepared statement. “Testament to their skill and hard work it was laid down to mature by the shores of Loch Indaal, unaware of what the future might bring. These whiskies when tasted leave me speechless. They are in their prime, the last of their kind and can never be repeated, never recreated. Nothing quite like them will ever be seen again.”

You’ll find official tasting notes for all three below from Bruichladdich.

1984

  • Aroma: Gorgeous. Classic old school Bruichladdich. Coconut, warm Muscovado sugar, vanilla custard, grapefruit, mango, baked ginger biscuits, marzipan. After a while notes of date syrup and sultana.
  • Taste: Soft and gentle texture, a delicate dram. Crème brulee, buttercup and orange zest. Gently warming the palate, it opens to reveal a touch of leather, toasted oak and praline. Sweet citrus and mango come through later.
  • Finish: So gentle but a lovely finish of warm scones and dried fruit, candied orange, lemon peel and apricot jam.

1985

  • Aroma: An amazing array of notes. Blood orange, nectarines, banana bread, desiccated coconut, vanilla custard, then more floral and nutty tones, geranium, marzipan, walnut, heather honey.
  • Taste: Tremendous presence on the palate, the texture is wondrously soft and syrupy. The short ACE in the wine casks has given a warm, nutmeg hint and a layer of fruity notes, raspberry, blackcurrant jam and ripe plum, all perfectly balanced by years in American oak – cinder toffee, lemon meringue and coconut – bounty bar sweet. It opens continually to reveal layer upon layer of complexity.
  • Finish: Long and gentle, the oak influence is strong with waves of soft vanilla wafer, toffee and sandalwood. Then lemon barley sugars, a hint of salted caramel and apricot syrup.

1986

  • Dried fruit – raisins, fig syrup, prunes and Christmas cake. Muscovado sugar, a hint of hot sand and candied peel, dried tea leaves, pipe tobacco and leather rolled in PX.
  • Taste: The aroma is truly astounding. On the palate the experience raises the bar still further with sweet PX notes, raisins, dried figs, dates, grape sugar. Leather, cigar boxes and Christmas cake. Everything a Sherry matured whisky should be and more. The complexity and balance is retained as the marine freshness and fruity notes of apricot and apple come through from the Bruichladdich DNA.
  • Finish: Never-ending. Sweet fruit, PX, salted caramel, cinder toffee and a hint of smoke.
About the author

Nino Marchetti

As the founder of The Whiskey Wash, I'm crazy about whiskey, I can tell you, and I aim to share this passion with you through this site. As for my professional background, I’m a writer and journalist by trade and an Internet dot-com veteran prior to that. My most recent venture prior to this was as the founder and editor-in-chief of EarthTechling, a leading consumer focused green technology news website. I also have an extensive collection of whiskies from both start up distilleries and centuries old operations in Scotland alike, sprinkled with some other odds and ends from around the world, that have provided me with a unique picture of what’s going on with this wonderful spirit.