...where distraction is the main attraction.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Mathilda Malt: Bruichladdich MCMLXXXV 25 year old 1985, aka DNA #3

Since my Littlemill stash is indeed little, I decided to do something slightly different to celebrate Mathilda's birthday this year.

Consider the Bruichladdich DNA series. While the McEwan/Reynier regime devoted half their business to drowning thousands of Invergordon Distillers-era 'Laddich single malt in Mogen David, ex-Listerine octaves or wine spit cups (or all the above in the Black Fart series), they chose to release the four "DNA" single malts nearly unscathed. Were these casks (likely less than 40 for the four releases combined) left alone because they were deemed good enough? Or were they put out to provide a wider range of color amongst the pink and burgundy hue of Bruichladdich's other releases?

I'd like to find out. So I tried two of the DNAs along with the current Remy Cointreau-era Scottish Barley Bruichladdich, which probably isn't that much older than Mathilda.


DNA #3 was bottled the year I started writing about whisky, back when everything was amazing! Everything except Murray McDavid. Back in 2011, there were a lot of Bruichladdichs on the shelf, which was "fun" and strange and confusing and I ignored them.

Like many of the 'Laddie oddities, DNA #3 has some good age to it. Unlike many of the 'Laddie oddities it comes from a mix of classic casks: ex-bourbons and sherry butts (or just sherry butts depending on one's sources).

Now, how they got Jim McEwan's DNA into the whisky isn't safe to speak of on a family blog such as this. Let's just say no one will second guess the man's affinity for sherried butts ever again.

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Ownership at time of distillation: Invergordon Distillers
Region: Western Islay
Series/Gimmick: DNA
Age: 25 years (1985-2011)
Maturation: Whiskybase says bourbon casks and sherry butts, TWE says sherry butts
Outturn: 1665 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 50.1%
(from a purchased sample)

It has the darkest color of the three. Its nose leads with milk chocolate, Worcestershire sauce, soda bread and ocean air. Then there are the mangoes. Tobacco, dunnage and a subtle earthiness. York peppermint patties, a slight beefiness. That salty air note blends with the chocolate flawlessly. Oh wow, such a thick mouthfeel. On the palate it's chocolate with smoked almonds. A slightly savoriness. Dried apricots and cranberries. Clementines and melon. Limes and ginger. Despite the expanding fruit notes, it's never very sweet. An underpinning of bitterness and pepper lends balance and complexity. It has a very earthy, almost smoky, long finish. Think fresh cigars (Habanos). Very warming. A ginger+peppery zing meets the palate's dried fruit.

Never had the urge.

Fabulous. Rich and balanced. Fruit, earth and killer casks. This is the sort of whisky that can spoil a person rotten and make him sneer at most modern sherried malts.

The early '90s Invergordon/W&M era of Bruichladdichs can be a mixed bag, but this is my first try of a mid-80s malt from this distillery and it's a candidate for my favorite technically-unpeated Bruichladdich ever. Only one other can compete...

Availability - Secondary market
Pricing - somewhere between £200 and £300
Rating - 91