Bladnoch Samsara

screen-shot-2017-02-22-at-20-14-03Distillery: Bladnoch
Age: Multi-vintage, with youngest 8 years old
ABV: 46.7%
Cask: Bourbon (I’m guessing)
More Info: WhiskyBase

One could quite easily argue that the Lowland whisky style is the least well understood in the whole of Scotland.

And it’d be hard to disagree! The region is almost the same size as the Highlands region (not including Speyside) yet it only has six distilleries! The isle of Islay has more than that all by itself.

As a result, Bladnoch is a name you really don’t see around often enough. The distillery’s had a few silent years and generally is one you can only taste on the indy bottle circuit. So what a welcome sight it is to see three brand new official bottlings, gloriously bottled at 46.7%* and without colour or chill-filtering – just the way we like it!

Purchased by David Prior, the distillery was officially re-launched last month in Australia. I’m very pleased these whiskies are now available back here in the UK! Let’s get tasting…

Nose: Buttery with icing sugar (it looks very fat and oily in the glass). Golden delicious apples, barley straw, grist, oat cakes, fresh leaves, toffee, vanilla and baked crumble.

Palate: Sweet and feisty. Baked apple, cinnamon, sweet malt biscuit, cloudy apple juice, cloves and a chalky pepperiness.

Finish: Mouth-coating and oily with soft oak, cloves, and liquorice.

It’s young, exuberant and very drinkable. A splash of water softens it up revealing more of the fruity side of its character. I’m a big fan of this – that buttery, grassy quality being something I’ve enjoyed in older Bladnochs (and Littlemills, come to think of it).

This entry-level of the new line-up is definitely worth seeking out. Time to move onto Adela, the next in the trilogy.

The new bottlings can now be purchased in the UK via House of Malt.

* Talia is bottled at natural cask strength of 49.2% ABV.

Highland Park Ice

screen-shot-2017-02-15-at-22-46-28Distillery: Highland Park
Age: 17 years old
Bottles: 30,000
ABV: 53.9%
Cask: First fill Bourbon
More Info: WhiskyBase

Another special edition series of Highland Park bottlings. This time it’s not Gods but the elements themselves.

The first in the series, “Ice”, is rumoured to be similar to the Freya bottling of the Valhalla Series – a 1st fill Bourbon Highland Park with a light, sweet, gentle character.

Nose: Fresh green apple flavoured candyfloss. Sour chewy sweets. White peach. Damp, sweet grass.

Palate: Sweet, luscious and honeyed with fresh green fruit – white grapes, green apples, gooseberries. A rising wave of white pepper numbs the tongue through the mid palate.

Finish: Oaky, nutty and sweet with vanilla.

The nose is delicate, balanced and very alluring but the palate lets it down. Even with a fair bit of water that rising pepper burn dominates the palate. It doesn’t feel peaty, but rather spirity, and very atypical of what I’ve come to expect from Highland Park, especially at this age and price bracket.

Sadly forgettable. Definitely not worth the £180+ price tag.

Bruichladdich Octomore 10 (2nd Edition)

screen-shot-2017-01-13-at-16-29-11Distillery: Bruichladdich
Bottled: 2016, Distilled: 2006
Age: 10 years old
Bottles: 18,000
ABV: 57.3%
Cask: First-fill Bourbon, Grenache Blanc
More Info: WhiskyBase

Towards the end of 2016, Bruichladdich released a “Troika of Tens” – three exciting ten year old releases in limited quantities. One for the unpeated Bruichladdich, one for the heavily peated Port Charlotte, and one for the super heavily peated Octomore.

The last round had Jim McEwan’s signature on them; this one is adorned with the autograph of Mr Adam Hannett. I love Jim’s Laddies but Adam’s have consistently exceeded all expectations.

At £150, it’s definitely not an every day dram but I’d just paid off my student loan so that seemed a good enough cause for celebration…

Nose: This takes me straight to the Atlantic! Very mineral-rich and coastal: salt-crusted seashells, damp driftwood, and dark green seaweed. It smells like rain (the proper word for this is “petrichor”, according to Jake) and there’s a great chalky/waxy quality in there, too. I love Octomore, it always paints a picture – this is a walk on a beach on a typical Summer’s day in Scotland. With time, some fruit appears in the form of orange and lemon peel.

Body: Viscous and mouth-coating but not cloying. That slow-drip distillation combined with the cask strength really works wonders.

Palate: Ok, a lot happens here. Briefly sweet and tart like a crisp green apple. The thick mouthfeel cocoons the impending peat smoke briefly and then *whoosh* the smoke is released! It goes straight to your sinuses like a good blob of wasabi. The savoury/spicy food continues with salt and pepper beef in chilli oil – very drying and tingly. As the tingling subsides, lime chocolate creams, peppermint, liquorice, and a hint of soft fruit (think honeydew melons/kiwis)

Finish: Quite savoury with that trademark chewy, tooth-coating Octomore peat. Malty and peppery and very, very long.

Gosh, they grow up so fast, don’t they? I love Octomore at five years old, all kicking and feisty. This hasn’t lost any of its kick with the additional five years but it’s gained a wonderful structure and nuance that gets better with every sip.

There’s a lot to discover here. Well done, Adam –  an absolute belter!

You can pick up the Octomore 10 2nd Edition in the Bruichladdich Shop for £150.