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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Bruichladdich The Laddie Eight

After going 2-3 years without an official age-stated whisky, Bruichladdich released this 8 year old single malt to the Travel Retail market in early 2016. Less than six months later they dropped a 10 year old into the world market at about the same price as the 8. That should give you a hint as to how the whisky industry feels about Travel Retail customers.

Both the eight and the new ten are made up of similar casks and are bottled at the same ABV, and have similar packaging. And now they can be found on the same shelves at dozens of European retailers.

After the new 10yo was announced, I bought a 60mL sample of the 8, partly for gits and shiggles, partly because I was hoping to find a successful single-digit age-stated whisky.

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Ownership: Remy Cointreau
Region: Western Islay
Age: minimum of 8 years
Bottling year: 2016
First Maturation: American and European oak casks
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No

Its color is of yellowed straw. The nose starts off farmy and slightly pukey. Lots of grains: cream of wheat, oatmeal and new carpet (not a grain product, yet). Burnt leaves. Cereal milk and mild cheddar. The palate is similar to the nose, grainy and milky. Necco wafers, Ceylon cinnamon and pencil lead. Moderate sweetness and something kinda peaty. With time in the glass, it gets hotter. It finishes tangy, milky, pukey. Burnt grains, lead and soil.

Maybe some water?

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
Hints of apples, pears and cinnamon in the nose. Less barf, same cheese and grains. A whiff of wood pulp. Apple juice shows up in the palate. Sweet-ish and lightly bitter. Milky and malty. Very very acidic. The sweet and tangy finish still has the milk and lead notes, as well as a hint of buttery pound cake.

I've picked up on modern Bruichladdich's milky note before, but never like this. That note doesn't usually bother me much, but while that character sets this whisky apart as eccentric, it also verges on foul. Things get slightly better when the whisky is diluted, but then the violent acidity crashes in.

I like when the fruit shows up, and the forwardness of the grains is refreshing. But with or without water, Laddie Eight feels American Craft Whiskey-esque. And that's not a compliment. In fact, now I'm going to avoid the new 10yo. Perhaps if they let the spirit go 12-15 years in oak, then I'll give it another try.

Availability - Travel retail and many European specialist retailers
Pricing - $50-$70 (w/o shipping)
Rating - 71 (with water only, at least 5 points lower when neat)