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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Single Malt Report: Bruichladdich Links, Old Course St. Andrews 17th Hole

Disclaimer, first: This whisky may have gone bad in the mini-bottle, though it is difficult to tell since this malt's reviews vary so widely.

Bottle shot, second:

Odd white sediment floating in the bottle, third:

In 2003, Jim McEwan -- Master Distiller and Production Director at Bruichladdich -- began releasing a series of Bruichladdich Links single malts in order to celebrate two of the most famous of Scottish recreations: Whisky and Golf.  There appears to have been about a dozen of these releases so far, the first of which is The Old Course St. Andrews.  The well-detailed bottle and tin art of the course's 17th hole is courtesy of artist Graeme Baxter.  This particular single malt was aged for 14 years in refill Spanish oak, then had a limited 12,000 bottle release.

Those are the facts as per other reviewers online.  Bruichladdich itself has no information about any of the Links releases on their website, but then again they've produced a wide variety of whiskys and most of those are absent from their site as well.  But I don't think they'd be in any hurry to detail this release.

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Brand: Links
Age: 14 years
Maturation: refill ex-sherry Spanish oak
Region: Islay
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
Limited Bottling: 12,000
Chill-filtered: No
Caramel colored: No

Color -- Light yellow gold
Nose -- Oaky, bland, and bready up front.  Then old beer vomit, Atlantic Ocean, plastic toys, and a vegetal note (possibly peat).
Palate -- Barley water and cardboard lead the way. It is considerably bitter and dry with a mild sweetness.  Smaller notes of tree bark, urine?, potpurri, and old hard dried up raisins at the bottom of the SunMaid box
Finish -- Bitterness first, then acetone and sea salt.

Color -- Great oils and clouds
Nose -- It reminds me of a blend: muted oak and malt.  It's a little farty, cardboardy, with simple syrup.
Palate -- Something synthetic like toasted toys, a plastic version of cilantro, along with unfiltered sourness.
Finish -- Identical to the palate.

IF my mini was not screwy, then this could be a good example of 'Laddich dispatching a number of inherited crummy casks.  Aside from the synthetic notes aroused by the water, it's a bitter but sleepy whisky.

IF my mini was contaminated in some way, I recommend you take a look at Jordan's Chemistry of the Cocktail review as well as Ruben's review on WhiskyNotes.  I lean much closer to Jordan's take.

My apologies if this report is as bland as the whisky.  I was so underwhelmed by this malt that I dumped half the booze down the sink.  But let's end on an Up note.  The best part of this whisky?  The mini tin's top serves as a perfect Glencairn cap!  See the glass on the left in the pic below.

Availability - Europe, though only at "collectible" prices now
Pricing - $200-$350 (yup)
Rating - 67

Next up is another Bruichladdich malt that was sampled alongside this one.  It fared MUCH better...


  1. That white sediment looks like bits from the cardboard on the inside of the cap (all screw-tops have this to keep the whisky from contacting the metal).

    1. Could have been. Too bad I already tossed the bottle or I'd check for it. The mini was packed with packing peanuts, but they were all intact. Plus the styrofoam chunks would have had to squeeze their way into the well-sealed bottle (the fill was to the very top of the neck).

  2. The sour wine notes I got out when I tried made me think that it was just a lousy sherry cask. Standards probably weren't too high in the late-80s when it got produced and they might have loaded up a sherry cask that had sat around for too long and went off somewhere in transit. It seems like some of the improvements in single malts lately has been due largely to better wood management.

    1. I agree about the standards then and now. Should this malt then not have become one of McEwan's ACEing experiments? This may be one of the few examples wherein I'd champion a winey (whiney?) finish.