...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Meditations on Fatherhood and the Bruichladdich 12 year old Second Edition (2011)

As per the first sentence below, I did indeed write this post before Election Day. Sunday night to be precise. The intent was to post it on Wednesday, but when that day came I felt that a day of silence would be best. Though it may look as if I foresaw the election result, I did not. I was really just commenting on the general swamp of the long term American mood. Anyway, here's the post, on Thursday.

I write this post before Election Day, knowing it will be scheduled for The Day After Election Day. Perhaps it'll be my least read post ever because this is the last thing anyone's going to want to read this morning. Or maybe people will be flocking to non-election related news in order to take care of their own mental health. It's likely that the anxiety which preceded today will continue long past tomorrow.

Two floors above me, my two-year-old daughter sleeps quietly, or maybe with a little snore since she's under the weather. When she has a cold she requests hugs nonstop. My wife and I are happy to oblige, partly because my daughter is swooningly beautiful and partly because we know that once she's well again there will be fewer hug appeals. Watching her while she napped this afternoon, I thought about the world she'll grow up in. I knew that, between my parents' generation and my own, we'd leave her a garbage world. But I'd always thought it would be a broccoli-filled kitchen trash bag reality. Not a dumpster fire.

I love Mathilda and want to do everything I can to help her grow into being a strong confident woman. The first two and a half years of childhood have been tough for her and her parents, and I've heard the next year will be a challenge as well. My missteps have outnumbered my successes, but I have more time to get things right. All I want to do in this life is to get things right. Today, when discussing what video she and I were going to watch or what music we should listen to, Mathilda held up her index finger and said, "One thing at a time."

I'm crumbling just typing that.

So clearly what is important right now is this review of the second edition of Bruichladdich 12 year old. Bottled in the wake of the retirement of the first ten year old by The Reynier-McEwan Era of Bruichladdich, this 12yo contained only whisky distilled by the previous ownership, Whyte & Mackay (who had purchased Invergordon Distillers).

Two things of note about this whisky. The ten year old which it replaced was made from a mix of ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks, while this 12 was from only bourbon casks. I assume the ownership realized they could put those sherry casks into more expensive bottles. Secondly, the distillery was mothballed from 1995 to 2001, except for a few weeks of peated production (by the Jura folks!) in 1998. That means there's a very good chance there's a considerable amount 17+ year old whisky in this 2011 bottling of the "12" year old. Must be one of the reasons they retired it by the end of that year.

In any case, I had no idea of either of any of these facts when I conducted my tasting. I will say this is a very good whisky, old content or no. Thank you to Jordan of Chemistry of the Cocktail who recommended this whisky when we did a sample swap.

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Ownership that released the whisky: Bruichladdich Distillery Co. Ltd.
Whisky distilled by: Whyte & Mackay
Region: Islay
Type: Single Malt Whisky
Age: at least 12 years old
Maturation: refill and first fill ex-bourbon casks
Bottled: May 2011
Alcohol by Volume: 46%

The nose lifts off with some bright candy notes, think Skittles and gummi bears. After a minute of air, those notes fade out, replaced by caramel sauce, butter, some milk chocolate, and definitely something peaty. Less than Springbank- or Ardmore-peaty, but it's there. There's also rubber cement, strawberry candy, Concord Grape Manischewitz, and some really nice toasty oak. A few drops of water bring out ripe autumn apples, vanilla bean, and hint of the old 10's florals.

Vanilla fudge, fruity tobacco and baking spices start off the palate. The sweetness remains mellow even as the palate gets very berried. I'm thinking tart blackberries and raspberry jam. Then limes, brown sugar and a hint of green tea. With a few drops of water it gets naked-er. Sweet, fruity, slightly tart, some funky maltiness. Never mind, here's some oak. But it's like a vanilla cookie to go with the berries.

Vanilla bean, bitter chocolate and tart berries in the finish. Small notes of barley and green tea too. With a few drops of water it develops a balance of barley and vanilla. Mild sweetness meets mild tartness.

Damn it if I'm not a decade late on discovering this one. I'd love to have this as a regular drinker. The blenders (McEwan included?) really nailed it. The palate and its berries(?!) hit all the right spots, with the sweetness staying in control, then the tartness and bitterness roll in late to complete the experience. The whisky is one of those increasingly rare examples that oak and spirit can coexist in peace. And the end result is we all win. Or at least those who get a chance to drink it. :(

I know I'm reducing my chance of chasing down a dusty of this now by posting this review, but there's no need for me to hoard the goodies. I wanted to share it with those of us who stand in the wreckage of former democracies. Don't go crazy, shilling out $100+ for this bottle. It ain't A or A- whisky, but it's a high B, maybe just on the cusp of a B+. Yes, I'm aware of the ridiculousness of the previous sentence. But if I find it for $50-$60...

Availability - maybe collecting dust on shelves somewhere, and at auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 87