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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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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 – 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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Whisky Review #51 – Octomore 08.1

We wanted to try more Octomore after our first experience with Octomore 10, 2nd Edition. We managed to get a sample of the Octomore 08.1 from a friend recently and decided to share our notes.

Octomore 08.1 is aged 8 years. At 167ppm, it is considered a rather peaty whisky.

Tasting Notes:

Colour: Pale Straw
ABV: 59.3%

Nose: Briney notes hit at first with a bit of smoke and spice as well as hints of lemons. It opens up after a while, with vanilla coming forward. The spice and smoke receded into the background with some peat resurfacing after a while. (18/20)

Palate: Sweet vanilla and lemony citrus notes coat the palate before pepper spice rushes in. Hints of nuts can be found in the background. Slight floral notes then kick in with sea salt ending the palate. The peat lingers pleasantly throughout, encompassing but not overwhelming. (18/20)

Finish: Long finish with some vanilla and citrusy notes. Spice lingers in the throat for some time before dispersing into a breath of smoke. (17/20)

Body: Balanced and surprising dram. Good in its own way but did not fare as well as Octomore 10 2nd Edition. (32/40)

Total Score: 85/100

Comments:

Geek Choc: Not my favourite Octomore but I must say that it is still a good whisky overall. I look forward to try more Octomore in future.

 

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