Thursday, February 15, 2024

Review | Bruichladdich 30 years old

The Bruichladdich 30 years old is a new permanent addition to the core range of the Islay distillery of Bruichladdich. It was launched simultaneously with another rare single malt, the Bruichladdich 18 years old, which will also be a permanent core expression. They are the first permanent whiskies of such age to sit in the range and form part of a new premium sub-range named Luxury Redefined. The 30 years old is one of the oldest bottlings ever released by the distillery.

The Bruichladdich 30 years old is rare and features whiskies distilled in the early 1990s, which was a period of huge uncertainty for the distillery. It was eventually to close in 1994 and be mothballed for seven years before reopening in 2001. The whisky has been matured in ex-bourbon barrels for the full 30 years - this is split 50% first-fill ex-bourbon and 50% re-fill ex-bourbon - and is released at 43% ABV. A bottle will cost £1,500.

Both of the new whiskies come in revolutionary new packaging. This features a new bottle made from 60% recycled glass and a pioneering wraparound sleeve made from recycled paper pulp. This is moulded to the shape of the bottle and is plastic free and produced using 100% green energy. 

Bruichladdich (pronounced brook-laddie) is located on the western peninsula of Islay and sits on the shores of Loch Indaal. The distillery was founded in 1881 by Barnett Harvey and it was one of the first buildings in the UK to be constructed using concrete. Bruichladdich translates as 'the brae (or hillside) by the shore' from Gaelic. 

The current owners are Remy Cointreau, who took control in 2012 from a group of independent entrepreneurs. They had renovated the distillery and rebuilt the brand following a period of closure between 1995 and 2001. The current capacity is two million litres per year.Unusually they produce three different styles of single malt at the distillery - classic Bruichladdich, peated Port Charlotte and heavily peated Octomore.

Our Tasting Notes

The colour is coppery gold and the nose dusty and spicy initial with a lovely background sweetness. Aromas of toffee and caramel mingle with cinnamon powder and clove. These sit alongside further aromas of caramelised apple, candied lemon and vanilla essence. Savoury hints of candlewax, chamoix leather and old cigar box are also evident.

On the palate this whisky is soft and silky. There is plenty of the sweet vs. savoury as experienced on the nose. Vanilla fudge, milk chocolate and butterscotch notes lead the way and are quickly joined by the candlewax and old chamoix leather. The spices also begin to develop and these give a dusty quality - think of the powdered cinnamon and clove again, plus some ginger.

There is a delicious underlying malty cereal note that underpins everything and adds structure and depth. There is also a distinct fruitiness that evolves - imagine peach compote and apricot jam with some fairground toffee apple and a hint of dried pineapple. Hints of dessicated coconut, dried grass or hay, and that old cigar box appear right at the close.

The finish is long and full of character. The sweet and fruity elements linger well, and become a little more tropical with time. As they fade the more savoury and dusty spicy notes come to the fore. The combination is superb and gives a lovely warming and pleasantly drying conclusion.

What's The Verdict?

The Bruichladdich 30 years old is exquisite. As it should be for the age and price tag. Having never tasted such old whisky from Bruichladdich, we did not know what to expect. But it was worth the wait. The spirit has softened superbly and the sympathetic use of ex-bourbon casks are seemingly perfect for three decades of slow maturation. A great whisky but one that is a little expensive compared to similar products out there. Try it if you can.

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