A muggy August evening brought our merry malt explorers together for a treat of three unique Islay whiskies. Each came from a familiar distillery yet were new expressions to tempt our palate.
We followed our standard blind tasting format, only revealing the whisky after sniffing, sipping, swishing, speculating and more.
So what did we find?
Bruichladdich ‘The Organic Scottish Barley’ NAS 50%
- Colour – Light yellow straw
- Nose – Imli (tamarind), yet also a classic Scottish quality, fruit basket, very light, a kind of desert sweet, slight olive brine, as it continued to air an overwhelming sweet overripe bananas emerged
- Taste – Initially a tingly spice, very dry and khatta (sour) with cinnamon, a bit prickly, then grew more and more bitter, a little brine or sour curd, after some time the spice nearly disappeared
- Finish – Bitter spice
- Water – Even more bitter that without a drop or two, then mellows
- Overall impression – While clearly young, has character and very interesting. Something a bit ‘different’ and while the tasting notes may not seem appealing, was actually quite lovely.
- In Victorian times, when Bruichladdich Distillery was built, all Scottish barley was organically grown. The relationship between distiller, farmer and soil was intimate and enduring. These ties were lost as industrialised farming cut through ancient synergies and an age of super efficient blandness was born.
- In partnership with our organic farmers – Sir William Roberts of Mains of Tullibardine, William Rose at Mid Coull and Neil Scobie at Coulmore – we are rediscovering these synergies. We believe relationships matter. Once again, land and dram united.
- Character – An elegant, composed and stylishly vibrant spirit that showcases the absolute finesse, purity, definition and elegance of organically grown barley.
- Colour – Late summer barley
- Nose – Opens on a light almond note with a twist of candied lemon. Followed by the magical aromatics of toasted barley, floral and fruit notes with a hint of lemon honey intermingling beautifully. Toffee sweetness comes from American oak cask and as the spirit opens little drifts of succulent papaya, melon and kiwi can be found.
- Palate – The texture is sensational, the spirit gliding over the palate like warm syrup. The taste buds love the purity and the sensational clarity of flavours being presented. A real sweetness on the front palate, barley sugar, honey almonds, green jelly beans, pear drops all splashed with fresh lemons and balanced by the crispness of malted barley.
- Finish – An intensity and definition of flavour that is unparalleled. Incredibly fresh giving an unforgettable palate experience that leaves the taste buds tingling and overwhelmed.
- Mood – Mischievous. Coy, flirtatious, Lolita. A breast-surging, bodice ripper: breathlessly virtuous.
And this description doesn’t seem to bear much resemblance to our experience. Curiously a different organic expression (The Organic 2010 Multi-vintage) had identical notes… hmm…
I’ve had discussions with our marketing team with organic whisky as an option in response to the incessant demand for something different from the different channels, but our friends in marketing don’t like it. And I can understand where they are coming – if we market it as organic then does it make the rest of it ‘impure’ in compared to it? I have two minds.
- Bunnahabhain Eirigh na Greine (Morning Sky), batch no 1, 46.3%
- Gordon MacPhail Connoisseurs Choice – Caol Ila 1997 43%
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