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Wednesday, 10 September 2008

A fine pair of Spanish siblings



We always look forward to our next batch of samples popping onto the door matt and our most recent acquisitions come in the shape of a pair of young Spanish twins.
Bruichladdich's recent form has seen them impress us with the splendidly drinkable 'Peat' expression, which typified the level of whisky making Jim McEwan and his passionate team have attained. The next releases date from casks filled in 1998, which was a tricky time for the distillery- the only period any spirit was produced between 1995 and 2001, by which time the current owners had taken over and planned a course to become one of the most well respected and revered independently owned distilleries in Scotland.

These 2 releases are from very different types of sherry cask; The dark and richly flavoured Oloroso which is considered much sweeter and robust than its lighter and dryer sibling, Manzanilla, which shares many characteristics of a fine chamomile tea.
Both bottlings are identical, but as history has taught us with twins- what is apparently the same on the outside can turn out radically different on the inside...let's get acquainted, shall we...

Bruichladdich 1998- 10 year old - sherry cask (Oloroso) - ncf - 46% - 70cl - 6000 bottles only

Nose: Slightly floral, with sherbet lemon, dry white wine and a damp mustiness, with an almost burnt sugar/buttery note too. Also hints of white pepper and parmesan shavings. Quite closed but gentle, not as heavily sherried as expected.

Palate: Very dry, more wine and then the Oloroso comes through, hints of mollases, then green herbs (parsley) and grapefruit.

Finish: Long and drying with hints of spent matches, tea and menthol.

Overall: Not as full on and sherried as expected but a refreshing and delicate dram.

Bruichladdich 1998 - 10 year old - sherry cask (Manzanilla) - ncf - 46% - 70cl - 6000 bottles only

Nose: Noticeable hints of spent matches and- dare I say it... sulphur. It has a slightly yeasty note, then more mustiness and an interesting pine freshness if you dig deep enough.

Palate: Surprisingly, much sweeter than the Oloroso version, but there's a lot of rubberiness and a slight hint of leather and tobacco on the death.

Finish: Not a particularly lengthy one, with hints of something floral then a tiny amount of smoke (maybe Lapsang Suchong?)

Overall: A little disappointing when placed against other sherried whiskies of this age.

The Oloroso comes out as a clear winner here and would certainly be a strong consideration in the sub- £40 market for a decent sherry expression.