Bruichladdich is located on the western Scottish island of Islay, the spiritual home of the world's smoky whiskies. The distillery was re-opened in 2000 by a consortium of business men led by Mark Reynier, whose background was primarily in the wine trade. They set out to buck the trend of the traditional whisky world by innovating and experimenting with different processes in order to introduce new and exciting products in to the market place. The whisky making process at Bruichladdich remains extremely traditional, with much of the original equipment from when the distillery was founded in 1881 still being used. This is combined with the manual skills of the distillery workers but the major innovation at Bruichladdich comes after production. Some traditionalists disapprove of their use of different casks for maturation or the number of special releases that they put out, but Bruichladdich's aim is to expand the boundaries of whisky and entice new people to try their product.
This X4 is one such special release. X4 is new make spirit that has come straight off the still and is then lowered from 92% ABV to 50% and bottled with no cask maturation. It cannot legally be called whisky, as that requires at least three years of maturation. the result is similar to a vodka or eaux de vie. Another difference is that it has been distilled four times (hence the name X4). The spirit is clear and on the nose you are hit with a fresh fruity note. There are lots of pears, apples and white grapes with a hint of citrus (think of lemons), and it reminded me very much of a grappa or a mezcal. On the palate, X4 feels creamy (almost syrupy) and that fresh fruit and citrus is present again with lots of grain and cereal coming through. The finish is fairly long, pungent and not particularly pleasant in my opinion. Having tried some new make spirits before, X4 was certainly a lot smoother than I imagined it would be but it would certainly be hard work to drink much of it straight. It would be better with a mixer or in a cocktail. This is limited at present to around 1000 bottles with another batch planned and should cost between £35-40.