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Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Feis Ile Day Three: A B/laddy Good Time

Awoke on the farm at 8am and decided to blow the cobwebs of travelling away with a brisk costal walk around Loch Gruinart before heading over the Bruichladdich Open Day.

When we arrived, their was already a fantastic village fete atmosphere in their sundrenched courtyard. Word is that the Bruichladdich Open Days, along with that of Ardbeg, attract a fair few locals which has the knock-on effect of creating a pleasant, community atmosphere which was enhanced a pipe band, freshly cooked scallops (again!) and various local craftwork stalls. Bruichladdich’s creativity and innovation could be seen stamped across this Open Day, which included items for sale such as a special Bruichladdich Whisky Cook Book, penned by Canadian chef Ferne Glaser, which includes a recipe for chocolate chip cookies using 3D3...Yum! Jim’s team has been blessed with spectacular weather for the last seven Open Days, making this THE festival attraction for locals on the North side of the Isle.

The distillery shop was brimming with excitement at this years festival offering from the “boys at Bruichladdich”. A short queue had already formed to purchase a bottle which you filled yourself from the cask. Your good friends here at have endured the hardship of tasting the release (!), a 1 Year Old (so not even a whisky). See below for the exclusive tasting notes which we posted live from the distillery.

Having filled out own bottles of the X4+1 and passed around the stalls, it was time to hit the Murray McDavid tasting session with Andrew Gray (Sales Director) and Andy Hogan (Regional Sales Manager) in the warehouse called “The Vatican” (All warehouse with whisky in are Duty Free area’s so Bruichladdich name theirs after tax free states...). Murray McDavid is an independent bottler owned by Bruichladdich, who add an interesting twist to casks they acquire from a range of other distilleries. The examples of these in our tasting were:

Clynelish 1995 – 12 YO
Matured: Bourbon
Finished: A mix of Madeira and Sherry Casks
Notes: The sweet nose of liquorice and sherbet leads to a smoky palate with ginger and spice overtones before a long, warming finish emerges.

Glen Scotia 1992 – 15 YO
Matured: Bourbon
Finished: Rum Casks
Notes: Red berries, bubblegum and zesty cinnamon-toast emerge, before evocative flavours of caramelised sugar, tropical fruit juice and hit the palate and lead to a sweet and salty toasted barley finish.

Highland Park 1989 – 17 YO
Matured: Bourbon
Finished: Grenache Blanc Casks
Notes: A pleasant notes of cereal, toffee, brine and pear mix with a deep and rich palate flowing with oak, fruit and smoked soft cheese. A very long finish of sea-salt, brown sugar and peat.

Caol Ila 1991 – 17 YO
Matured: Bourbon
Finished: Chenin Blanc
Note: This incredibly silky and oily malt gives way to citrus fruits, orange blossom and caramel interspersed with toasted malt barley and charcoal and earthy tones in the palate. A lingering, dry finish.

Macallan 1990 – 18 YO
Matured: Bourbon
Finished: Chateau Haut Brion Casks
Notes: Juicy, sweet fruits and vanilla caramels are balanced with hints of bourbon and plum from the additional maturation. Cloves, ginger and wild heather intertwine with mint and barley to create a pleasant, classy dram.

Bunnahabhain 1976 – 31 YO
Matured: Bourbon
Finished: Fino Sherry
Notes: An incredibly eloquent mix of cut green apples, dark chocolate and hints of smoked fish lead to a creamy mouth-feel of brown sugar, custard creams and zesty lemonade.

For the record, Joel’s top choice from above was the Clynelish while Neil chose the Bunnahabhain, both closely followed by the Glen Scotia.

Having concluded this excellent tasting selection, found ourselves in the privileged possession of a small dram of PC7. Code named “Unity”, here our tasting notes for this next Port Charlotte release:

Bruichladdich - PC7- Unity - 7 YO Port Charlotte mix of Bourbon and Sherry casks - Distilled: 2001 - 61% Volume

Nose- blue cheese, silky peat, earth and fresh cut grass with fresh butter.

Finish: More peat, mild chilis, well done steak Beanaise, Bitter dark chocolate, swirls of oaky smoke .

Overall: excellent. Very much like Ardbeg Almost There. PC is really maturing into something special.

This sumptuous Open Day was perfectly rounded off by a quiet dinner with our wonderful hosts at the Bridgend Hotel. Godspeed our journey into Day Four of the festival, with bellies full of venison and Islay Ales.