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Event: Launching the Port Charlotte 10

 

The night was filled with wondrous music, joyful laughter and friendly banter as everyone gathered at Cargo39 for an evening of Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore. A trade and media session was over earlier in the day and the evening was solely for the consumers by invite only. We went to the consumer session partly because of Bruichladdich’s lovely thoughtfulness of putting us together with our friends.

We arrived shortly before 7 pm, and after a little trouble, managed to find the venue. The first thing that caught our attention was the Rare Dram Bar. If you have taken a good look at our pictures, you would have seen a bottle of the Yellow Submarine Edition 3, as well as a bottle of OBA (Octomore Black Art). Coveted drams as such do not come by easily, and what’s more, at an event such as this! There were also bottles of the Rare Casks and a couple of Valinch bottles that we were keen to try.

Well, I digress. The event was not for the Yellow Submarine or the OBA, but for the long-awaited launch of the Port Charlotte (PC) 10. While some people stated that this is a relaunch for PC, I say that it is a launch. Port Charlotte gets a rebrand for the entry level bottle from the PC Scottish Barley to the PC10.

Port Charlotte PC10 Launch

The PC10 launch was a vastly different style from Bruichladdich usual launch party. Considering the bigger space at Cargo39, there was room for food, cocktails (with The Botanist) and games! It was also the first event hosted by Bruichladdich that mirrored the Islay Festival – Feis Ile! Music and malt always go well together, and the successful event on 21 Sep proved that it worked wonderfully in Singapore too!

The best part of the event was the appearance of Adam Hannett, live from Islay!

The event kicked off with Chloe Wood (Bruichladdich APAC Brand Ambassador) introducing the brand and announcing Adam’s role for the evening. After that, Adam took us through four different expressions during the tasting. The first on the line was, of course, the PC10. After that, we had the PC Islay Barley, MRC:01 (PC Mouton Rothschild Cask) and finally the MC:01 (PC Marsala cask).

The Tasting Session

For the record, I love the PC10 so much that I bought a bottle home to enjoy. However, I will not do any form of whisky review for the drams that we had that night, mainly because I hope that you will be encouraged to try it without knowing what to expect. Please try not to read any reviews before trying, because you will be pleasantly surprised at what you will get when you try it without expectations.

The experience with Adam leading the tasting was exciting, but a little rushed. The key factor probably remained at the fact that the serving for the whisky was slow. Quite a fair number of people did not get the last dram (including us) until after the tasting was over. The crowd was also too excited and we couldn’t hear Adam clearly. Quite a number of “shhh!” needed to be given! Haha! Nonetheless, we enjoyed our drams and that was all that matter!

Rare Dram Bar

The tasting was not the only thing that excited us that night. We headed to the Rare Dram Bar straight after we enjoyed the four drams. The idea was to purchase rare dram coupons and exchange them for drams at the bar. We zero in on the drams we wanted…

I must say that our favourites are the two bottles in the middle – The Bruichladdich Organic 2009 and The Distillery Valinch Bourbon Virgin Oak Cask 2004.

Besides Whisky…

The event was Whisky Festival style, so naturally, I should not linger on the whiskies only. The band of the night was fantastic! I heard that Chloe found the band and they are named Craic Horse! An interesting name with awesome music is what I would call the band!

The band is based in Singapore and it is a group of talented musicians made up of Singapore’s established traditional Celtic musicians, rock and indie artists to create a “folk-rock-punk-funk hybrid”.

There was also food from various partners such as the Cheese Ark, and game stations hosted by industry friends such as Brendan Pillai from The Single Cask and Sarah Thallon from the Vagabond Club!

We had an amazing time at the party! Port Charlotte was reborn on 21 Sep in Singapore and it came with a loud bang! Congratulations to Bruichladdich Distillery and we look forward to the launch of Black Art 6.1 at Whisky Live Singapore 2018!

 

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Whisky Review #93 – Dramfool Port Charlotte 15 Years Old

 

There isn’t much information that I could find online about Dramfool. What I do know is that Dramfool is the brand name of an independent bottler and that the owner’s name is Bruce Farquhar. According to Bruce’s LinkedIn Profile, he is an experienced engineer who is now the director of Dramfool.

This review focuses on one of Dramfool’s recent releases for the Islay Whisky Festival Exclusive Bottling that happened to be Dramfool’s 13th release. It is a Port Charlotte, distilled in December 2001 and bottled in December 2016. Dramfool bottled the whisky at cask strength of 58.3%. There are only 195 bottles available.

How does it taste like? Let’s find out.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: White wine
ABV: 58.3%

Nose: The first notes I got was coastal salt and peppery spice. There is light vanilla cream in the background. Sweet barley notes surface after a few minutes. Gentle peat (soot?) wafts into the nose after 10 minutes, and lemony notes appear underneath the peat. (17/20)

Palate: Sweet barley comes quickly but peppery spice attacks right after the sweetness. After the spice mellows, coastal salt, vanilla cream and lemon notes appear all in succession. The gentle peat comes at the back of the throat. (16/20)

Finish: Medium finish with sweet barley and hints of vanilla. (16/20)

Body: It is a balanced dram with a typical Port Charlotte profile. It is decent, but not something that I would wow over. It is probably not something that I would want to spend money to buy a bottle. Nonetheless, Dramfool sounds like an interesting IB, and I would want to explore more of its releases. (33/40)

Total Score: 82/100

Comments:

Geek Flora: “Well, it was a nice dram, but not something that gets me excited. A typical Port Charlotte profile is pleasurable but not fantastic. I guess I was looking for more as I had a great experience with the MoS Port Charlotte previously. You can find our review here

Geek Choc: “Port Charlotte was not high on my list usually, and this is no surprise. I think it is a simple dram, balanced but not complex enough.”

 

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Whisky Event – Bruichladdich Old vs New

From left: SMOS 1992, SV 1990, X4+3, Islay Barley 2010

Here’s a new whisky event that Geek Flora and Choc went to in less than a week! Bruichladdich Old vs New event happened at The Single Cask on 9 May 2018. Hosted by both bar manager Brendan and Bruichladdich APAC Brand Ambassador Chloe Wood, it was an awesome evening filled with history and amazing whiskies.

The Lineup

The lineup on 9 May was a stellar one. The liquids came from different eras of the Bruichladdich distillery. We had a Signatory Vintage 1990 Bruichladdich, 26 Years Old, a Single Malt of Scotland 1992 Bruichladdich, 23 Years Old, the X4+3 and the Islay Barley 2010 from the distillery itself. The oldest whiskies came from independent bottlers as Bruichladdich was in a less than desirable situation in the 1990s when it still belonged to Invergordon. If you followed our article about the distillery, you would know that Bruichladdich closed in 1994 and did not reopen until 2001.

The X4+3 was a unique expression as it was quadruple-distilled and aged for only three years (hence the name X4+3)! It came from the era of Mark Reynier and Jim McEwan, the legendary distiller. It is almost impossible to find a bottle now, so if you manage to find one, BUY IT! The Islay Barley 2010 is, of course, one of their newer expressions when the distillery came under the guidance of their current master distiller – Adam Hannett.

The Event Proper

The event started not with the whiskies, but with pizzas and garlic bread, compliments from the good folks at The Single Cask and Bruichladdich. After they fed us, the event started with Brendan and Chloe up on “stage”.

Brendan and Chloe up on “Stage”

They explained that they originally wanted to start the tasting session with the old vintages, but changed their minds. They were starting with the youngest one! The reason was simple – we are likely to taste the difference better when we did the young to the old. So, that’s precisely what we did!

Islay Barley 2010 (50% abv)

The Islay Barley is slightly different from the regular Scottish Barley as it has a salty tint to it. We would like to think that it is due to the Islay barley used. While the typical sweetness of a Bruichladdich is prominent, there is this unique coastal salt, and toasty cereal notes to it. The spice is also sharper than the regular Scottish Barley. Overall, it is a lovely dram that you can enjoy any time of the day.

X4+3 (63.5% abv)

X4+3 is exceptional. That is Geek Flora talking, by the way. The sweetness of the whisky is so distinctively pears, green apples and melons! This is one whisky for the sweet tooths! The palate has hints of coastal salt and lemons coupled with light tangy spice at the tip of the tongue. Even though this is only aged for three years, the creaminess and oiliness of the whisky are remarkable. We supposed it has something to do with it being quadruple-distilled.

SMOS 1992, 23 Years Old (55.4% abv)

The SMOS 1992 was one of the crowd’s favourite that night. As it was from the Invergordon era, the distillate differed slightly from the modern ones. There was this pine note within the whisky, which kind of differentiate it as a whisky made for blends (we think). The nose was fresh with pine, melon and lime. The palate presented a bouquet of flowers, with oak, light melon and hints of lime. Warm spice lingered in the middle and back of the tongue. Unfortunately, the finish was short with pine-oak and floral notes. It was also dry. Again, the finish showcased a whisky that was perfect for blending, but not so great perhaps, as a single malt due to a rather short finish at such a high abv.

Signatory Vintage 1990, 26 Years Old (53.4% abv)

As for the Signatory Vintage 1990, it was a little different because it was a sherry-cask matured whisky. However, it appeared to be slightly lacking as it did not showcase typical sherry notes. The nose was promising, with cherry, hints of cranberries (some say baby vomit), green apples and some savoury salted meats. The palate was warm spice, red fruits and hints of salt. While the finish is long, salty and dry, it did not give a high satisfaction. Were our expectations too high? We are not so sure.

After Party at The Single Cask

We stayed way longer than we planned to (as usual). Initially, it was to savour and finish our drams, especially the X4+3 and the SMOS 1992. As the crowd left and the bar quietened, it became a great place for conversation. We had a chat with Chloe and a fellow Laddie fan, Fiona, and spoke about Laddie t-shirts! Haha! So, we decided to take this photo below.

Laddie fans united with our Laddie Ambassador!

It was such a beautiful picture, isn’t it! Chloe and Brendan had on the Bruichladdich Polo Tee, while Geek Flora and Choc had our Unicorn Bruichladdich and Octomore Tee. Fiona was wearing her 2017 Feis Ile tee! We love this so much that we named it the “Laddie fans united with our Laddie Ambassador” picture!

A Laddie Cocktail

Islay Barley 2010 Whisky Sour

Just as we were about to leave, Brendan said, “How about an Islay Barley Whisky Sour?” We just had to stay for that because Brendan made terrific cocktails! Most of you who know Flora personally know that she is not a cocktail person, but she took two big sips from this glass that she shared with Chloe. It was the perfect answer to how yummy this whisky sour was. Stunningly balanced between the sweetness and the alcohol, this whisky sour is probably something that you will keep wanting to come back for.

After emptying the glass, it was time to head home. So we bid goodbye to Brendan and Chloe and made our way back. It was an excellent evening to be sure. If you have never been to a Bruichladdich event, come to the next one. We promise that you will not be disappointed.

 

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Whisky Review #83 – Port Charlotte 2002 – MoS

Malts of Scotland (MoS) is probably not a stranger to you if you are a fan of independent bottlers. MoS is a consistent award winner as an independent bottler and has won many different awards across the whisky industry. The most prestigious of all awards is likely the “Independent bottler of the year”.

Thomas Ewers heads MoS and earns the reputation of a “whisky talent” at a young age. His first foray into whisky was in 2003 when he had his first single malt. The second dram of a 10-year-old Aberlour sealed his fate as a whisky lover and eventually an independent bottler.

The bottle under review today is a Port Charlotte distilled in 2002 and bottled in 2013. Matured in a bourbon hogshead, it has been known to give rise to tasting notes such as “baby vomit”, “rotten milk” and “spoiled milk” at the bar where we had this.

With such a fascinating reputation, let us get started to see if we can find the “baby vomit”.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Amber
ABV: 57.4%

Nose: Smokey and sweet. Dark, dried red fruits with smoke. It is gorgeous indeed. The nose boasts of notes typical of a sherry cask, but this is a bourbon hogshead! Isn’t that amazing? Raisins, dried figs, stone fruits are all presented in the nose. Sweet and beautiful indeed! (17/20)

Palate: Sweet and flavourful, with smoke in the background developing beautifully as we drink. Raisins, sultanas, figs and cranberries combined in a sweet and fruity palate. Hints of raspberries are detected in the back of the throat. That sourness from the raspberries may be the answer to the “baby vomit” and “spoiled milk”! (18/20)

Finish: Long and smokey! Cranberries and raisins linger forever and ever. Gets a little dry after a while and almost feel like an elegant, old red wine. (18/20)

Body: This is balanced brilliantly. The smoke is consistent from the nose to the finish. Add the raisins and dark fruits, and you get a divine drink! (36/40)

Total Score: 89 points

Comments:

Geek Flora: Well, well, well, this is an exciting tasting of a Port Charlotte. I like the uniqueness of this whisky, and it is an excellent example of how independent bottlers can make a whisky better.

Geek Choc: I must be honest and say that I am in the camp of those who think of “baby vomit” when I tried this PC. Not my favourite for sure. 

 

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Whisky Event: Bruichladdich X Demochoc0

Bruichladdich has been showcasing their whiskies consistently in the recent months, and they are very successful indeed. Geek Flora had been to more than a few, and she was impressed with both the presentation and the whiskies (of course)! As Bruichladdich fans, we are delighted to see the consistent and robust interest coming from the whisky community.

Bruichladdich X Demochoco X The Wall SG

The most recent tasting that we went for was an exciting and informative one. Bruichladdich paired up with one of the best chocolatiers in Singapore – Jialiang from Demochoco, as well as the bespoke bar that we have featured in January – The Wall SG, to bring a heavenly pairing of hand-made chocolates and whiskies.

What is so unique about this, you may ask? It is common to pair chocolates with whiskies, isn’t it?

It is common to pair chocolates with whiskies, but have you tried chocolates that tasted like local-Singaporean food?! Demochoco painstakingly made chocolates that tasted like local Singaporean food (think laksa and salted-egg cereal prawns) to pair them with the excellent Bruichladdich whiskies. The Wall SG made it possible for the event by opening its doors. There was also an “extra service” – Jeremie, the whisky expert at The Wall SG, became a model for Bruichladdich merchandise!

We assured you that he was thrilled to be a model, even if he looked rather deep-in-thoughts in the picture! He was just thinking how to pose! Hahaha!

The Hosts for the night

The hosts for the night were Jialiang – Demochoco’s expert chocolatier and Chloe – Bruichladdich’s APAC Brand Ambassador. Here’s a beautiful picture of them chatting right before we started the event. Everyone knows Chloe by now. She is Islay-born and grows up on the island surrounding by whiskies! Jialiang is Singaporean and has immense knowledge about chocolates. He is a chocolate lover who decided to take one step further by making chocolates for fellow chocolate lovers to enjoy! His chocolates are really to die for, so if you have yet to taste it, we recommend you to try it!

History of Bruichladdich

We have repeated the history a couple of time previously, so we will not do it again. If you are keen to find out more, read our previous posts on the history, as well as the two tasting events here and here. We will just leave this picture here for you to admire. Take note of the picture cards in the middle row of the bar shelf! These are the precious pictures from the distillery!

Chocolates and Whisky

Now, let’s move on to the pairing event. Bruichladdich brought four expressions for the event. The pairing is as follow:

  • Bruichladdich Classic Laddie with Laksa Truffle
  • Islay Barley 2010 with Salted Egg & Cereal Truffle
  • Port Charlotte Scottish Barley with Oko Caribe 72% Truffle
  • Octomore 7.1 with Black Sesame Truffle

Let’s dive into the tasting notes!

Bruichladdich Classic Laddie X Laksa Truffle

Details of Bruichladdich Classic Laddie
ABV: 50%
Age Statement: NAS

We are sure that you know how laksa tastes like, but the laksa truffle is better than all that coconut-flavoured soup! When we first popped the chocolate in the mouth, all we got was delicious dark chocolate. Once you chewed through the top-portion, you get all the laksa flavours, down to the umami taste of the shrimps and the slight spiciness!

We sipped the Classic Laddie when our mouth was still full of the laksa flavours, and whoa, we get an intense maltiness from the Classic Laddie! The sea salt becomes prominent as well, leading to a much longer finish for the whisky. Interestingly, the “finish” of the laksa truffle lengthened as well and the spicy shrimp flavour simply shined through! The oil in the whisky helps to enhance the flavours of the laksa truffle, and we felt that we just had a bowl of piping hot laksa for dinner!

Islay Barley 2010 X Salted Egg & Cereal Truffle

Details of Islay Barley 2010
ABV: 50%
Age Statement: 6 years old

Ever tried chocolates that tasted exactly like salted egg cereal prawns? That was what we had. The flavours that exploded in the mouth was full of that crisp, flavourful salted egg cereal prawns that we get from an excellent zichar stall in Singapore! That was just so exotic!

The Islay Barley 2010 was full of salty caramel, toasty cereals and malted barley. It is also slightly more spicy than the Classic Laddie in the palate, which made a perfect pairing with the salted egg & cereal truffle! The salted notes meshed together beautifully and brought out the spice that hid under the layers of the whisky. The maltiness of the whisky combined with the cereals of the chocolate, creating a toasty cereal note that lingers in the finish. Just when we thought that it was all over, a fresh burst of sweetness in the back of the throat gave us a pleasant surprise!

Port Charlotte Scottish Barley X Oko Caribe 72% Truffle

Details of Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
ABV: 50%
Age Statement: NAS

The Oko Caribe 72% truffle was a hot favourite among many who loves dark chocolate during the event. Made from medium dark roast cacao beans, the chocolate presents itself with a creamy caramel sweetness that is not overly sweet. The soft texture adds to the appeal.

If you do not know how Port Charlotte tastes like, it is full of fruitiness and sweetness combined with smoke. Peated at 40ppm, it is a heavily peated whisky but showcases all the lovely character of what Bruichladdich represents. The chocolate gave a fantastic enhancement to the enjoyment of Port Charlotte Scottish Barley (PCSB)! The sweetness of the chocolate mixed well with the sweetness of the PCSB and showcased the fruitiness of the whisky in the grandest manner possible. The most extraordinary experience was the aromatic smoke that puffed out right after we swallowed the whisky. Omg! That fragrant smoke is so phenomenal that we could hardly believe it. The finish is incredible, all sweet and smoky at the same time!

Octomore 7.1 X Black Sesame Truffle

Details of Octomore 7.1
ABV: 59.5%
PPM: 208
Age Statement: 5 years old

The black sesame truffle consists of both Japanese and Taiwan black sesame, and the outer layer is a kinako powder from Japan. It is known as blonde chocolates and trust us when we tell you that this chocolate is heavenly. If you like the sesame taste or love anything sesame, this is the chocolate for you.

The Octomore 7.1 is somewhat medicinal and contains very light smoke on the nose. When we paired the whisky with the chocolate, it first enhanced the smoke from the whisky in an ideal way – let it all out! The saltiness of the whisky then came through the palate beautifully and continued with a pleasant spice. The finish was sweet and then tannic, leading to a dry and astringent finish. The sweetness of the chocolate found a balance with the Octomore 7.1, making it just a tad too yummy to swallow!

End of the event

The event ended shortly soon after the fourth whisky pairing and both Chloe and Jialiang went around to chat with the participants. It was a jolly good evening, and all of us had fun! It was yet another successful event by Bruichladdich, and we applaud their efforts as always. Jialiang is a perfectly good spot and sold us some delicious chocolates at a fantastic price too! Last but not least, we enjoyed the funny banter that Jeremie and the rest of the wonderful people at The Wall SG provided to us! Haha…it was an entertaining night and one that we hope to revisit soon!

If you have missed out on this event, head over to The Wall SG to try all the whiskies from Bruichladdich and you will see why we are all praise for this event! If you want to reenact the pairing session, order the chocolates from Demochoco and head down to The Wall SG for the drams!

 

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Bruichladdich Media Launch – Octomore Series 8

Octomore 8 Masterclass

 

Bruichladdich held a media tasting for the upcoming Octomore 8 Series launch at The Writing Club on 1 February 2018. Chloe Wood, the Asia-Pacific Brand Ambassador, was the presenter for the session. Bruichladdich invited me to represent WhiskyGeeks, and I cannot express my gleefulness to have the chance to drink the Octomore Series 8 again!

I arrived early, and our Bruichladdich host treated me to a generous pour of Port Charlotte Scottish Barley! The Bruichladdich team is top-notched in their hospitality, as always! As we waited for the rest of the media to arrive, I chatted with the team, took pictures and enjoyed my dram!

The Tasting Session in Action

A beautiful line-up of the Octomore 8 Masterclass Series

 

Chloe started the ball rolling shortly after 2.30pm when everyone had arrived. She warned me that the presentation was largely similar to what she did for the previous Bruichladdich tasting event, but I still found the presentation enjoyable. I also managed to pick up information about Bruichladdich which I missed out the last time.

Chloe waxing lyrical about Bruichladdich

One of the juicy bits of information which I had left untouched in my previous article was the barley malting process. A malting house at Inverness malts all of Bruichladdich’s barley. They have a dedicated area cornered off just for Bruichladdich and malted the barley with a commitment that is distinctly Bruichladdich! The facility even added the peat to Port Charlotte and Octomore malting manually to control the ppm of the barley.

Another interesting fact is the quality casks that Bruichladdich uses for all their maturing whiskies. Chloe mentioned that they are not cheap to come by and that is part of the reason why the distillery needs a lot of funds to maintain production. Of course, I missed out entirely on Octomore Farm where it grows the Octomore barley for some of the expressions as well as the water source. Bruichladdich draws water from a spring on Islay itself. The distillery used this water source for distilling and watering down of the whisky (when needed).

Octomore 8 Masterclass

 

The Octomore 8 Masterclass is Bruichladdich’s Head distiller, Adam Hannett’s first set of Octomore. Crafted entirely by him, the Eights is the first series to be launched together. The Eights are all eight years old whiskies except for one, which you will understand why once we reveal the reason.

Before we dive straight into the Octomore 8 one by one, please allow us to show you a video of the Octomore Brand.

Octomore 8.1

Picture from Bruichladdich

The Octomore 8.1 is the forerunner in the Eight series. Distilled in 2008 using the 2007 barley harvest, the distillery peated it at 167ppm. 100% matured in first fill ex-bourbon American oak casks for its full term, this eight years old stayed on Islay all its life before getting bottled at 59.3%. The distillery released 42,000 bottles globally.

On the nose, I found sweet, floral, gentle peat. There are hints of pineapples and pears. The palate is oily with warm spice (black pepper), vanilla cream and fruity sweetness! The finish is long with vanilla lingering to the end. With water, the peat appears stronger on the nose and pushes the sweetness to the background. Nonetheless, the palate remains, with vanilla cream and sweet fruits leading the way. The water shortens the finish slightly, but the vanilla stays.

Octomore 8.2

Picture from Bruichladdich

Octomore 8.2 is an interesting one. Intended for the Global Travel Retail, this bottle is the hardest to come by unless you travel during the release period. Distilled in 2008 from the 2007 barley harvest, the distillery peated it at 167ppm as well. Adam vatted six years old liquids from second-fill ex-Sauternes casks, French Mourvedres and Austrian sweet wine casks before putting the vatted liquid into first-filled Italian ex-Amarone casks for two more years. This eight years old expression also stayed on Islay on its life before getting bottled it at 58.4% abv. The distillery released 36,000 bottles globally.

On the nose, I get sweet candy, red wine, dates and cinnamon spice. The rich, robust whisky is oily on the palate that is reminiscent of sweet dessert wine and cinnamon. The mixture is pleasantly exotic and balanced. The finish is long and spicy. The Octomore 8.2 eludes all the sweetness from the wine casks and is fantastic to drink.

Octomore 8.3

Picture from Bruichladdich

Octomore 8.3 is the monster baby of the lot. It is a tribute to Islay and uses only barley from the Octomore Farm’s 2010 harvest. It was a bad harvest that year, and Octomore Farm’s owner, James Brown, faced heavy losses from it. However, the barley produced terrific results during the malting process! A staggering 309.1 ppm reading came back from the malting facility, making the new-make the heaviest-peated whisky in the world! Distilled in 2011, the expression boasts of one farm, one field and one vintage and showcases the barley influence. 56% of the liquid spent five years in ex-bourbon American casks, while the remaining 44% spent five years in ex-Pauillac, Ventoux, Rhone and Burgundy European oak casks. The expression stayed five years on Islay before getting bottled at a whopping 61.2% abv! Due to the small barley harvest, the distillery released only 18,000 bottles globally.

The nose is full of aromatic peat, lemon citrus zest, sweet wine, pears and apples. The palate is oily with full lemony citrus and sweet fruits before the smoke comes in beautifully. The finish is long with light smoke and sea salt towards the end. What an epic dram for sure!

Octomore 8.4

Picture from Bruichladdich

The last bottle of the Eight series is nothing short of amazing. It is the Gamechanger. Distilled in 2009 from the 2008 harvest, the distillery peated it at 170ppm. 20% of the liquid comes from liquid matured in first fill virgin oak casks with medium toast for eight years. The remaining 80% aged in first fill American casks for eight years before getting a finish in second fill virgin oak casks from Tonnellerie Radoux cooperage in France. If you are wondering what is the second fill virgin oak cask, it just means that the distillery used the virgin oak casks for the second time. Virgin oak casks are not easy to come by, and the price is hefty as well! The expression matured fully on Islay before getting bottled at 58.7% abv. The distillery released only 12,000 bottles globally.

On the nose, I get the oak influence immediately. There is an oakiness to the liquid, coupled with a citrus, fruity sweetness and a hint of smoke. The palate is oaky and dry, with sweet pear, apples and some pleasant spice. Hints of smoke linger in the background without overshadowing the sweetness. The finish is long, sweet and peaty!

Sweet Ending to the Tasting Session

Cheese from The Cheese Ark

 

Handmade Chocolates from DemoChoc

Chloe ended her presentation after introducing Octomore 8.4 but it was not the end of the session. No, the Bruichladdich team bought cheese from The Cheese Ark and chocolate from Demochoc to share! We get to eat tasty cheese and pair it with our Octomore, as well as satisfy our sweet tooth with hand-made chocolates!

Further Details of the Launch

Fans of Octomore are waiting anxiously for the series to launch in Singapore, but unfortunately, we still do not have the launch date yet. It is rumoured to be launched sometime in April but it is not firmed up, and the launch can happen earlier! Rest assured that we will keep everyone updated once we know the launch date!

In the meanwhile, prepare yourself for the mad rush when the series launches! It is going to be massive fun! Stay tuned for more folks!

 

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Bruichladdich Black Art Series Tasting Event

Picture Credits: Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich is starting 2018 fast and furious, with many events lined up with various bars. The first event of the year for Singapore started with a Black Art tasting at The Single Cask. Chloe Wood, Bruichladdich’s Asia Pacific Brand Ambassador, led the session. It was a sell-out session, and the crowd at TSC was excited to see Chloe in person. The brand manager of Bruichladdich, Rachel Tan, was also in attendance, and she even brought along home-made butter cakes drizzled with Port Charlotte icing! There was food as well, so it was indeed a little party that we were happy to be a part of.

Starting the session with some history

Attentive participants listening to Chloe

A tasting session could not proceed without a bit of history to set the tone right, and Chloe did not disappoint as she waxed lyrical about Bruichladdich’s history. It was a somewhat stormy history, with struggles and closures that were all too real. Started in 1881, the Harvey brothers built Bruichladdich and resolved to run the distillery using state-of-the-art technology at that time. Spirits ran pure and floral from their stills, and Bruichladdich whisky proved that Islay could make unpeated whiskies.

Bruichladdich Distillery in 1881 (Picture Credits: Bruichladdich)

Troubles soon befell the distillery. A fire broke out in 1934, and William Harvey passed away in 1936. With William gone, the distillery fell into the hands of various entities before getting mothballed in 1994 by Jim Beam.

The distillery saw new hope when Englishmen Mark Reyneir and Simon Coughlin sought to buy the distillery in 2000. Chloe shared an intriguing story in which Mark and Simon were told to “scramp off” by the men who were taking care of the distillery when they tried to gain access to Bruichladdich to take a look. Mark and Simon persisted and finally managed to buy the distillery with 8,000 maturing casks for £6m. 50 investors were involved in the purchase.

A New Hope

With Mark and Simon on the helm, Bruichladdich took a turn for the better. In 2001, the duo decided that they will use purely Scottish barley for their distillation. The most significant achievement, however, was the decision to mature all their whiskies within the distillery’s compound!

Bruichladdich Distillery (Picture Credits: Bruichladdich)

 

Maturing casks at Bruichladdich Distillery (Picture Credits: Bruichladdich)

Things ran smoothly until 2011 when the distillery fell into a financial crunch. The traditional methods of distillation and storage of the casks within the distillery had drained the finances. Mark and Simon struggled to pay the passionate workers and resolved to bring in more funds for the distillery.

Saviour in the form of Remy Cointreau

Remy Cointreau came in with the funds of £58.5m in 2012 and saved the distillery from getting mothballed. With the money, Bruichladdich could once again function with maximum capacity and even increased their production output from 750,000 litres to 1,200,000 – 1,500,000 litres from 2013 to 2017.

Remy left the running of the distillery to the knowledgeable men and women on Islay and provided the support whenever needed. With a team of dedicated whisky makers and a management that is willing to support them, the distillery is scaling for greater heights in the coming years. In fact, Bruichladdich is looking into a possibility of starting their own malting facility in future!

The Whisky of the Night

From left: Bruichladdich 1990, Black Art 4.1, Black Art 5.1

With the intriguing history behind us, Chloe took us through the flights of the three whiskies in front of us. First up was the Bruichladdich 1990/25 years old, followed by the Black Art 4.1 and finally the Black Art 5.1.

Bruichladdich 1990/25 years old

Bruichladdich 1990/25 years old

 

The Bruichladdich 1990/25 years old has a unique history that spans three generations of master distillers. Adam Hannett created the expression using casks brought in 2001. There were two paths to this liquid.

First Path:
– Refill American Bourbon cask, 17 years
– Fine French Claret, Bordeaux Grand Cru Cask, five years
– Spanish Sherry, Pedro Ximenez from Fernando de Castilla, four years

Second Path:
– Refill Spanish Sherry butt, 18 years
– Spanish Sherry, Oloroso from Fernando de Castilla, seven years

Adam then married the casks together to create the Bruichladdich 1990/25 years old.

Tasting notes of Bruichladdich 1990/25 years old

The dark amber of this expression promises a sherry bomb and makes us fall in love with this sherried whisky even before we tried it. The nose is fragrant with dark fruits and chocolate. Raisins, sultanas, dates and apricots float together with hints of vanilla. The palate follows with chocolate cream, raisins and dates. Layered underneath is a soft and light fruitiness that comes from the spirit. The smooth and oily mouthfeel makes this whisky elegant and very palatable. The finish is long with sweet sherry and chocolate. The mouthfeel gets drier towards the end.

Black Art 4.1

Bruichladdich Black Art 4.1

The Bruichladdich Black Art 4.1  is Jim McEwan’s last release of the Black Art before retiring. There is a story behind the Dark Arts..ahem, I mean Black Art. Back in the days when Adam was learning the craft from Jim, he asked Jim what was in some of the casks that were brought in from the outside after smelling an other-worldly perfume in the warehouse. Jim smiled and said, “Ah, well, that’s a secret never to be divulged…that’s where the magic lies.” Adam paused and then replied, “Jim, this isn’t distilling that you do, it’s alchemy – the dark arts…”

And that, my dear readers, was how the Black Art was born. Jim created the first Black Art in 2009. Black Art 2.1 in 2011, 3.1 in 2012, and Black Art 4.1 in 2013.

Nobody except the master distiller knows what went into the Black Arts – and they keep the secret forever. Even Mark and Simon are not let in on the secret. The bottle was blackened, and coated with mystical signs. It is a success because the Black Arts are so different from the other Bruichladdich series.

Tasting Notes of Black Art 4.1

Black Art 4.1 is another 1990 vintage with the liquids spending at least 23 years old in their respective casks. Bottled at the natural strength of 49.2% abv, it is a non-chill filtered and colouring free whisky.

The nose is fragrant and robust. Raisins, sultanas, red wine float gently together. A pleasant, warm spice tingles in the background. The palate is oily and soft, with a slight tingle of spice on the lips. Sweet caramel, raisins and cream coats the palate beautifully. The finish is long, sweet and a little dry.

Black Art 5.1

Bruichladdich Black Art 5.1

The Black Art 5.1 is Adam’s very first Black Art creation. It causes him many sleepless nights, constant worry and self-doubt. However, his belief in his teacher and mentor, Jim, and his knowledge gleaned from his long years of learning the craft, spurred him forward to create Black Art 5.1.

When Jim gave Adam his recipe for the Black Art 5.1, Adam dutifully took and ignored it. Adam wanted to repay his mentor and friend by creating a Black Art that is worthy of the knowledge that he learned from the legendary master distiller. His immersed respect for Jim demands for nothing short of that.

His hard work paid off, and the Black Art 5.1 is a hit with many fans in the world. The elegant and soft expression won the hearts of many, and it was indeed, a tribute paid to both Adam and Jim.

Tasting Notes of Black Art 5.1

The amber colour of 5.1 reminds us fondly of the 4.1. The nose is full of sweet fruits – mango, pineapples and apricots – and warm spice tingles the nose with some spike. It is, however, light and elegant with no unpleasant bite. The palate is consistent with the fruitiness and yet coupled with oak influences of vanilla, honey and soft cinnamon spice. The finish is long and fruity.

After-hours Chat

The tasting session ended soon after the Black Art 5.1, but the party was not over yet. With Port Charlotte cakes and jolly laughter, the party continued with Chloe chatting with various participants. We also stole Chloe’s time for a short chat, and I took the chance to get a picture with her too!

It was an enjoyable session, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly. Oh, and we got ourselves a fantastic Bruichladdich polo tee each!! It was reasonably priced at $25, so we just grabbed it while it last! The next WhiskyLive is going to have a lot of Bruichladdich “ambassadors” wannabes walking around for sure! Hahaha…

If you want to know more about Bruichladdich and their ranges of whiskies, click here and here to find out more!

Stay tuned as there will be more coming in February!

 

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Bruichladdich x The Cheese Ark Tasting Event @ LMDW

 

Whisky enthusiasts are familiar with chocolate and cheese pairing. However, have you thought of pairing whisky with cheese? La Maison du Whisky is hosting an extraordinary event at the end of January featuring a unique combination of Bruichladdich’s whiskies and The Cheese Ark’s artisanal cheese.

What is the event about?

This event will showcase an exceptional whisky and cheese pairing using the core expressions of Bruichladdich’s Islay whiskies, and old, authentic cheese made from the villages in Europe. Chloe Wood, Bruichladdich’s Asia Pacific brand ambassador, who is also an Islay native, will join hands with the passionate founder of The Cheese Ark, Syu Ai Ming to bring you on an explorative journey of both unexpected and explosive flavours.

The tasting will include the following whiskies from Bruichladdich:

  1. Bruichladdich Classic Laddie (Scottish Barley)
  2. Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2010
  3. Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
  4. Octomore 10 (2nd Edition)

Complete details of the event

Date: 31 January 2018
Time: 7 pm to 9 pm
Venue: La Maison du Whisky
Address: 80 Mohamed Sultan Road #01-10
Price per ticket: $65

With exceptional whiskies and good, old cheese curated just for you; this event is bound to thrill you like never before! Book your seat here and look forward to an enjoyable evening!

 

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Chloe Wood – Bruichladdich’s Brand Ambassador

Chloe with her bottle of Laddie Valinch 28

Chloe Wood – the new brand ambassador from Bruichladdich, made waves in Singapore even before she arrived when news of her joining the Singapore team was released officially sometime last year. The community is excited to meet a young lady who has so much knowledge about the brand and who grows up in Islay. Everyone knew that Chloe has much to share with us about Bruichladdich and what they do.

Fast forward to WhiskyLive Singapore 2017 in November last year – Chloe was there to lead the Masterclass for Octomore. We were there as well and got to know Chloe very quickly. Her friendly manners got all of us high and jolly (well, the Octomores played a part too) and we had a wonderful time with her.  We also learnt so much about Octomores from Chloe!

We invited Chloe for an interview with WhiskyGeeks and finally got a chance to sit down with her sometime in mid-December at her office for a chat.

Introducing Chloe Wood

Chloe at Islay (Picture Credits)

For a start, allow us to introduce Chloe Wood. She is Islay-born, and have grown up in Islay for much of her life. Chloe is into sports, and is a qualified coach in hockey, rugby, football, badminton and swimming! She was also a certified lifeguard before working with Bruichladdich. As a child, Chloe was not introduced to the whisky scene and never had much connection with whisky. However, she knows that whisky is part of life in Islay and as she grew up, her interests grew as well. As Chloe wasn’t keen to attend university, she escaped with a diploma and headed straight for work. When the job came up at Bruichladdich “Laddie Shop”, she jumped at the chance to join the big family.

The Laddie Shop opened the world of whisky to Chloe. Her daily interaction with customers, her co-workers and the occasional chat with whisky legend, Jim McEwan, all gave her knowledge and grew her passion for whisky. Chloe did not look back since, and she is now four years with the company with much to give back.

The Wood Family

As an only child, Chloe is close with her cousins, who also works with Bruichladdich. Her family is deeply involved with Islay and Bruichladdich to be sure. Her grandfather owns Octofad Farm, which is part of the Bruichladdich family too. Her dad, Andrew Wood, who is in the construction business, built grain sheds on the farm in 2008/2009 to hold and dry the barley that the farmers are producing for Bruichladdich, and now, the operation has grown. Octofad Farm dried all the Islay barley used in the distillation at Bruichladdich. “30 tonnes of barley takes 12 hours to dry”, Chloe said.

Chloe’s mum, on the other hand, runs a B&B on Islay. There are always Bruichladdich fans staying at the B&B, so the Wood family is consistently in touch with whisky and Bruichladdich.

Working with Bruichladdich as a host in the Academy

Chloe worked for The Laddie Shop for about a year and a half before she transferred to a role in the Academy. As a host in the Academy, she led educational tours for staff, distributors and wholesalers. Her vast knowledge in the brands came largely from her role as an educator. In the Academy, the host led highly-detailed tours for three tracks – Bruichladdich, Botanist and Remy Cointreau’s brands. As the educator for the Bruichladdich track, Chloe shared that the tours included visits to the barley fields and water source, an experience to cut peat and of course the distillery tour with a chance to taste whisky from the warehouses. It ended with a tasting session of the Bruichladdich’s core range of whiskies. The whole event takes place over two days.

Unfortunately, it is only for staff, distributors and wholesalers. Visitors to the distillery can politely request to see the water source, but it is up to the distillery’s discretion to bring the visitors. If the weather is foul, it is likely not possible to hike to the water source.

Bruichladdich Cask Sales

Up until 2011, Bruichladdich sells casks to its fans and help them to store the whisky in their warehouse for a fee. There were over 4000 cask owners by the time the cask sales stopped. In 2001, each cask cost about £400 and the price increased to £1000 by 2011. The cost to store the whisky was growing, and Bruichladdich was finding it more difficult to upkeep the sales portion as there are just too many cask owners. Therefore, they stopped the programme in 2011.

Funny Stories from Chloe’s days as an International Tour Guide

Chloe worked as an international tour guide for Bruichladdich as well and hosted overseas visitors for distillery tours. One of the funniest stories that she remembered was the one time where she brought a group of huge, Swedish men around the warehouse, and she made the mistake of saying, “Well, if you can lift any of the casks in the warehouse, it is yours to bring home!” She was confident in her knowledge that the hogsheads and barrels in the warehouse were too heavy for a single man to lift. Unfortunately, one of the Swedish men found a small cask hiding in between the big guys. The small barrel is only 35 litres, and he lifted it easily! “I am bringing this home, Chloe!” Hollered the man jokingly.

Chloe was so stunned that she did not know what to do for a moment. Thankfully, the men did not get rowdy and put the cask down quite willingly after she promised to give them an extra dram during the tasting session. What an adventure!

A typical day as a Brand Ambassador

For those of us who think that brand ambassadors have a fantastic job, think again. We ask Chloe what her day usually is like and the schedule is quite a hectic one!

In the day, she has meetings with the marketing manager, training with bartenders or staff, designing her presentation and arranging the tasting sessions for her training. On top of that, she has to do supply planning for her travels as well as writing tasting notes and stories for the people she meets during her travels.

In the evening, she attends meetings with bartenders and bar managers as well as with other brand ambassadors who might be visiting. Sometimes, she needs to host or speak at events too. Besides all these, Chloe travels a lot. Spending six to seven months of the year on the road can be tiring.

Do you still want to be a Brand Ambassador?

The Laddie Valinch 28 Chloe Wood

The Laddie Valinch 28 Chloe Wood

We asked Chloe about the Laddie Valinch 28 which was a special bottle for her. It got her name on it! The Valinch is a series of bottling by Bruichladdich to honour all the employees of the company. It can be a Laddie, or a Port Charlotte and each bottle is a single cask from the distillery. Currently, the Valinch series is at no. 31.

The Laddie Valinch 28 is a Sauternes cask (#780) with an outturn of 444 bottles. It is a 12 years old with an abv of 48.8%. We got the honour of tasting it straight from a new bottle that day. Man, it was fantastic! The nose is full of fresh honey, pears and green apple, a little grassy and light spice in the background. The palate is sweet like a white wine with an oily mouthfeel. Lemon mixed with the pears and green apples to form a tropical feel. Pleasant spice tickled the tongue for a warm feeling. The finish is long with lemony notes and a tingle of spice. It gets a little dry towards the end, just like an excellent white wine. The influence of the Sauternes cask was evident but nothing that overwhelms the character of the spirit. What an impressive dram!

Chloe’s Favourite Whisky

We asked if the Laddie Valinch 28 is Chloe’s favourite whisky, to which she said, “Oh! No, not really. I remembered that my first taste of whisky when I started work at Bruichladdich was an Octomore 12 years old. I fell in love with it immediately! It was 9 am in the morning, and Jim told me that he wanted me to try something special. That was my favourite!”

Besides that unattainable whisky, Chloe loves the Octomore 8.3 and the Bruichladdich Islay Barley bottlings! Those are her favourite for now. Are those your favourite too?

The Future for Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich has a bright future and one which we would like to be a part of. Besides her busy schedule, Chloe wants to expand the brand in the Asia and South East Asia region. She hopes to bring both Bruichladdich and Islay to the people here so that more people can experience the progressive innovation that is so prevalent in Bruichladdich. Chloe even wants to learn Mandarin so that she can communicate easily with Bruichladdich fans from China and Taiwan!

Besides that, education is also a priority in Chloe’s list of “must-do”. She wants to show people what whisky is all about, tell stories about the different brands and to bring Islay to everyone whom she meets! It is a pleasure to talk about her home and to invite people to visit Islay and Scotland.

What to look out for in Islay?

Besides all our talk about whisky, we also took the chance to ask Chloe what we should look out for when international visitors go to Islay. Her reply? “Check out the beautiful beaches, farmland, wildlife and sanctuaries. Eat fresh seafood, drink all the whisky and don’t drive if you are visiting distilleries. Oh, and don’t book tours too close to each other. The journey from one distillery to another can take you longer than expected! Lastly, watch out for wifi problem! It is an island after all!”

Advice for youths

Before we left, we asked Chloe if she has any advice for youths. Her biggest answer was TRAVEL! Travelling was indeed what she did as a youth and she shared that there is much to learn when you travel. You get to learn about yourself and others; see the world and know what you like. These experiences helped when you start working. We have to agree with that!

We wish Chloe all the best in her exciting journey for 2018, and we hope to see her again soon!

Bruichladdich – Progressive Hebridean Distillers

Bruichladdich – one of the most famous distilleries on Islay – happens to be one of WhiskyGeeks’ favourite distillery as well. While we have yet to visit this top-notched distillery, we just have to pen something about this progressive, Hebridean, distiller.

History of Bruichladdich Distillery

The history of Bruichladdich is comparable to a roller coaster ride. The Harvey brothers – William, John and Robert – established Bruichladdich in 1881 on the shores of Loch Indaal, on the Rinns of Islay. They built Bruichladdich stone by stone and designed the building with an efficient layout.

They installed uniquely tall and narrow-necked stills and other state-of-the-art equipment that was unheard of in those days. Bruichladdich was one of the top notched distilleries in Islay. Sadly, the Harvey brothers were better distillers and engineers than they were businessmen. The distillery struggled against the bigger players, and soon, it fell into trouble. A fire broke out in 1934, and shortly afterwards, William Harvey passed away. The distillery was sold several times after 1936 before getting mothballed in 1994. The reason for mothballing was “surplus to requirement”.

The Rise of the Modern Bruichladdich Distillery

Bruichladdich distillery saw a gleam of hope when it was purchased by Mark Reynier of Murray McDavid with the funds from a group of private investors in December 2000. Official records said that he brought the distillery for £6.5 million, but in fact, he brought the 8,000 casks maturing inside the distillery for that amount! The buildings were practically free. Right after the purchase, Mark hired Jim McEwan, the whisky legend who was, at that time, working with Bowmore Distillery, as the master distiller and production director.

The next few months saw Bruichladdich risen from the grave as Mark and Jim dismantled and renovated the entire distillery. While most of the exterior of the building was dismantled and renovated, they refurbished the old, Victorian equipment and restored them for usage. Mark was determined to retain as many of the Harvey equipment as possible, and they managed to do just that! Today, these old pieces of machinery stood proudly in the distillery as the hallmark of the history of Bruichladdich.

In 2012, Rémy Cointreau bought Bruichladdich Distillery and remained as the owner today.

Philosophy at Bruichladdich Distillery

Production at Bruichladdich with Graham Hayes (Picture Credits)

Bruichladdich is a non-conformist distillery, rejecting many of the “whisky production theories” of the day. Believing that industrialisation and self-interest have strangled the whisky industry, Bruichladdich strives to be different.  Instead of following the “rules” of the days, the people behind the distillery set their mind to be innovative and creative distillers.

The people at the distillery believe that whisky needs a character to convey authenticity. They believe in variety, innovation and progress. Bruichladdich is not after a title of homogeneity; it is after a change. The distillers think that the world needs a challenger, one that will stand in the face of blandness and denounced it as such. Hence the distillery often surprises their fans with exceptional, new creations.

Bruichladdich also produces a gin – The Botanist. Similar to what they do for their whiskies, they make sure that The Botanist is different from gins presented by other companies. If you have yet to try a Botanist, it is time for you to try!

The Land, The Water and The Ingredients

Bruichladdich works closely with the people living in Islay as well as the land that forms Islay. Islay farmers planted barley in response to Bruichladdich’s call for an Islay Barley, and others built sheds to dry the barley for the distillery. The land yields the barley; the mountains and lochs produce the water source for mashing, distilling and bottling. Most importantly, the people of the island come together to create whiskies that speak of its origins. It is also the largest, independent employer in Islay.

Bruichladdich believes passionately in terroir – authenticity, place and provenance. That is a heritage that they are proud of.

Bruichladdich Range of Whiskies

Some of the whiskies made in Bruichladdich Distillery (Picture Credits)

Bruichladdich produces three different brands of whiskies in the distillery. They have the Bruichladdich brand, serving up unpeated whisky. Then, there is Port Charlotte, a heavily-peated whisky at 40ppm. For the peatheads, there is Octomore, the most-heavily peated whisky in the world.

Bruichladdich

Classic Bruichladdich is unpeated, floral and sophisticated. It is a natural whisky which is non-chill filtered and colouring free. The whisky is made purely from Scottish barley, although there are some expressions distilled from Islay Barley and Bere Barley.

This range of whisky is living proof that Bruichladdich rejects traditional labelling of the whisky-producing regions in Scotland. Produced in an area where peat is the norm, the Classic Laddie challenges the label of what constitutes an Islay whisky.

Port Charlotte

The range of Port Charlotte is a tribute to the men who once worked in Lochindaal distillery from 1829 to 1929. It is peated to 40ppm and still retains the classic floral complexity of the typical Bruichladdich. The most exciting nibbles about Port Charlotte is that the original stone warehouse of Lochindaal distillery in Port Charlotte still stores the maturing spirits now.

Octomore

Octomore is famous; or in the distillery’s own words, it has taken the world by storm. It was a “what if” idea that turned into a reality. Named after the Octomore farm on the hill above Port Charlotte, the whisky is a legacy to the farm that used to be a distillery. In 1816, Octomore farm was a self-sufficient distillery. It grew its barley, cut its peat and distil its whisky on the farm. While the spark burned only for a few years, Bruichladdich Distillery carried the legend till today through the Octomore range of whisky.

Octomore is known as the world’s most heavily peated whisky. One of the latest expression, the Octomore 8.3, is peated to 309ppm! Contrast to expectation, the whisky is aromatic, floral and sophisticated. You will never expect something so delicious!

Looking to the Future

It is no secret that Bruichladdich continues to be a progressive distillery in today’s whisky world. We trust that Bruichladdich is striving harder than ever before to produce authentic, good-quality whiskies for the world.

We look forward to new releases from Bruichladdich.  As always.

 

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