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Whisky Review #65 – Bruichladdich 20 Years Old Duncan Taylor

Bruichladdich fans will agree that it usually taste of sweet vanilla notes and is spicy on the palate. However, have you thought about a Bruichladdich that has almost no spice, and instead, takes on a light, grassy note? No? Well, neither have we! Until now…that is.

The subject of this review is a Bruichladdich 20-year-old by the independent bottler, Duncan Taylor. Distilled in 1992, the liquid matured in oak casks for 20 years before getting bottled in 2013. The total yield is 300 bottles.

Let’s look into this excellent dram now.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Gold
ABV: 52.4%

Nose: Grassy to the max! It smells like an early morning stroll in a meadow, where flowers are just starting to bloom. The sweetness is minimum, but instead, floral notes are prominent. Peppery spice floats in the background, but it is not strong. Un-typical Bruichladdich! After airing for near 30 minutes, the sweetness of white peaches can be detected in the background, making it more typical Bruichladdich. (17/20)

Palate: The taste is light grass and floral all at the same time. Slightly acidic with light peppery spice. Unlike the Classic Laddie, this whisky has almost no spice. After a while, honeyed notes surface and push the spice further into the background. After airing for near 30 minutes, the palate changes completely. The grassy notes are gone and are replaced by sweet white peaches, making the taste more like a typical Bruichladdich. (18/20)

Finish: The finish is short with some sweetness. It does not change with time. (15/20)

Body: It is a simple whisky, but well-balanced. Mind-blown at first but slowly, it develops typical characteristics of Bruichladdich. This is a shot of whisky that can be savoured over an extended period just to see it blossom into its full Bruichladdich character. (32/40)

Total Score: 82/100

Comments:

Geek Choc: “I did not expect a surprise when I ordered this dram, but boy, did it surprise me with its difference from the typical Bruichladdich. I like the grassy notes and the fact that the spice is minimum. It is nice to taste something different now and then! It is probably a good idea to drink this again in a month’s time to see if the oxidation in the bottle makes this “more Bruichladdich” than what I had.” 

Geek Flora: “When Choc told me that this is grassy, I thought he was drunk! Nonetheless, I was impressed when I nosed and tasted this dram. That is fantastic! Well, it is a pity that Spice did not get to try this one because he was overseas. We will drag him along if we try this again!”

 

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    Top 5 Independent Bottlers you can find in Asia

    We have touched the tip of the ice berg regarding independent bottlers (IBs) in our previous post. In this post, we will share the top 5 IBs whose bottles are found in Asia, particularly Singapore.

    Gordon & MacPhail

    Gordon & MacPhail is founded in 1895 by James Gordon and John Alexander Macphail. Originally a well-known grocer, the company imported all kinds of groceries. That included whisky. As the founders grew to like whisky, they started buying malt whisky by the barrels. They inclined towards Speyside’s single malts and today have a large collection of these whiskies.

    John Urquhart joined James and John Alexander in their early days as an apprentice. The business passed into the hands of Urquhart and his family later on. Today, the company is still helmed  by the Urquhart family.

    Gordon & MacPhail occupies the original premises in Elgin, Scotland since 1895. Today, it is one of the largest independent bottlers in Scotland. They have over 300 own bottlings in their catalogue at any one time. In 1993, they also bought the Benromach distillery. The distillery closed for renovation for 5 years and reopened in 1998, where they continue to produce quality whisky for the world.

    The range of whiskies is wide and includes Connoisseurs Choice, The MacPhail’s Collection and Cask Strength.

    Douglas Laing & Co Ltd

    Douglas Laing & Co Ltd is a Glasglow based company founded in 1948 by Frederick Douglas Laing. Unlike Gordon & MacPhail, Douglas Laing started out as an IB directly. The post-war era was a good time for business and the company grew rapidly. The business passed down to his two sons, Fred and Stewart, who continue to manage the business well. The company is one of the largest independent bottlers today.

    In 2013, Stewart decided to start his own company called Hunter Laing and the two brother parted ways. Nonetheless, Douglas Laing continues to produce high quality whiskies despite challenges in the company with Stewart leaving.

    Some of the popular ranges of whiskies from Douglas Laing includes the Old Particular range of single malt and single grain whiskies as well as blended malt such as Big Peat and the King of Scots.

    WM Cadenhead’s

    WM Cadenhead’s is a well-known independent bottler but it did not start that way. It was founded by George Duncan in 1842 as a vintner and distilling agency in Aberdeen. He invited his brother-in-law, William Cadenhead, to join him after a decade of flourishing business. 6 years after Cadenhead joined, Duncan passed away, leaving the vintner to Cadenhead. He promptly changed the company’s name and continued to build the business.

    Cadenhead passed the vintner to his nephew, Robert Duthie, when he died. Duthie was the one who developed the company into the independent bottler that we know today. In an attempt to move away from his uncle’s business model, Duthie started vatting the variety of malts he had to create exceptional blended malts like the popular Heilanman and deluxe Putachieside. He also started the slogan “By Test the Best”.

    Duthie died in an accident in 1931, leaving the company to his two sisters. They have no idea how to run the business, so they left it in the hands of long-time employee, Ann Oliver. Unfortunately, Oliver was unable to grow the company but instead left it in such a bad state that they ran a “fire sales” of spirits at the auction house of Christie’s in 1972. Ironically, it cleared all their debts and added a 6-figure profit to the company. The sisters decided to sell the company to J. & A. Mitchell and Co., the owner of Springbank in Campbeltown in the same year. It moved to Campbeltown where it continues to produce quality independent bottling today.

    Duncan Taylor Scotch Whisky

    Duncan Taylor shared a similar history to most of the independent bottlers above. It was founded in 1938 as a cask broker and trading company. Due to its strong ties with the distilleries they worked with, Duncan Taylor began to bring their own casks to buy new make spirits from their distilleries friends. This resulted in Duncan Taylor holding on to rare whiskies from closed distilleries today.

    Euan Shand bought Duncan Taylor in 2001 and moved the company to his hometown of Huntly, Scotland. He also changed the business completely, forsaking its history as a cask broker. Euan’s experience in the industry makes him the perfect guy to utilise the whisky vault that Duncan Taylor owns and he began the company’s new journey as an independent bottler.

    Some of the popular ranges of whiskies include Black Bull, The Octave and The Rarest.

    Signatory Vintage

    The last bottler on our list is relatively young but equally strong. Signatory Vintage is established in 1988 by Andrew  Symington and his brother in Edinburgh. As a late bloomer, the company adopts a vigorous release policy so consumers can easily find 50 available different single malt expressions at any one time. Despite the bigger amount released, the quality is never compromised and the company grew by leaps and bounce.

    Signatory Vintage was threatened in the early 2000s due to the crisis of independent bottlers where distilleries started to mistrust them. In an attempt to overcome the threat, Signatory Vintage bought Edradour distillery in 2002 and moved its operation to Perthshire, next to the distillery. Today, the company is producing not only quality independent bottles but also releasing single malt whisky under the Edradour brand.

    The popular ranges of whiskies from Signatory Vintage include the un-chill filtered collection, the cask strength collection and the single grain collection.

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