Based out of Edinburgh, The Whisky Cellar is a brand borne out of the the work of one man: Keith Bonnington. The name may appear familiar to readers of this blog and/or those familiar with recent scotch whisky history. Having earned his stripes through Edrington, Keith has recently flown solo, using those contacts and tastebuds to create a series of new brands and series which explore the wonderful world of scotch whisky. The Scalasaig is a fantastic blended malt which explores coastal whiskies aboard their “Island Hopper”. The Brig O’ Perth resurrects a piece of 19th Century whisky history. And here, The Whisky Cellar represents his largest collection of single cask bottlings which offer up the broad spectrum of flavours and maturations in scotch whisky today.
I have posted about each of the above expressions before (see links in the text above to read those notes), and was thrilled to be able to partake in another sampling of The Whisky Cellar releases – this time Series 4 the Private Cellars Selection. Nestled amongst the series is a single cask bottling of Bruichladdich 10 year old. Having previously declared The Laddie Ten as my desert island dram, this was a particularly enticing opportunity to taste a single cask release of the same age and provenance. The cask used for this however required a little bit of googling on my part: a Jurançon Doux sweet wine cask.
Looking deeper into this expression’s origins, we discover that this is a Bruichladdich single cask, distilled in 2011 in the heavily peated ‘Rhinns’ style at 30 ppm and matured for its full 10 years in a sweet French wine barrique from the Jurançon region. 🍷 The bottling is at cask strength of 58.9% ABV, and limited to just the 295 bottles that could be retrieved from the cask.
Well well well. Bruichladdich by name. Port Charlotte by nature. A delightful turn out for the books. Full on peaty, meaty, and maritime flavours billow out of the glass. Pow. Smoky barbecued meats – or long and slow cooked brisket. Sizzling sweet cured bacon rashers and maple syrup sweetness. Buried under the peaty embers lies a little white wine vinous / white grape (and peach?) sweetness, but we are talking about being buried under the bbq smoker oven flavours.
Oooh it’s punchy. An initial fiery fizzle from the near 60% ABV. A smoky bacon flavour kicks off the notes but there are apples and pears in there (all presumably BBQd) and some sort of green olive bitterness and salinity. Cinnamon spice and White pepper heat from the booze still burn bright and the peat brings that odd and very divisive Elastoplast/iodine flavour. Sweet meets. Burnt ends. A tiny little peach flavour again. (I write these things down and think I’d never eat these damn things all together but here in a glass – magic).
That’s one spicy-a-meat-a-ball. White pepper fiery heat, boozy fizzle, and coastal salinity.
Another great example of how an indie bottling can demonstrate a distillery’s different house style and highlight where it can be taken when housed in an unusual cask. I can see how this could easily become a Marmite affair though. This is one for the peat heads. One you would not want to touch with a barge pole if you were not so peatily inclined. Luckily, I enjoy peated malts and I rather bloody enjoyed it.
It has also proven that I am indoctrinated to Bruichladdich’s branding. Based on how the distillery brands their non-peated whisky as Bruichladdich, their peated as Port Charlotte, and the title Octomore is reserved for the super peated, this indie bottling may be from the distillery 0 and therefore factually accurate – but doesn’t fit the name the Bruichladdich style at all. That said it does retain a little hint of that house character malt though – notably the costal salinity.
Having a bottle of Port Charlotte 10 nearby, I ran the signature PC10 alongside its Whisky Cellar counterpart and found that this indie Laddie is much more robust, heavy, and fully flavoursome. As a Bruichladdich fanboy, I’d say that the original PC10 harks more closely to their signatures malts and house styles, but as an individual cask, this indie is probably part of the greater mix and a great one-off display.
For the uninitiated, a £120 price tag seems crazy for a 10yo single malt, but with that high ABV, you could definitely look to spread it out a little further. One for the peat head and Laddie enthusiast for sure.
Sample disclosure: I received this sample as part of a Tweet Tasting event coordinated by Steve Rush @TheWhiskyWire. All notes are intended as an honest, fair, and independent review of the whisky and not as a promotion. Please drink responsibly. Please drink wisely.