...where distraction is the main attraction.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

WTF Bruichladdich: X4+3

The Story

One thing is true about the Reynier / McEwan Era, Bruichladdich was not afraid to experiment. These enterprises paid off in the birth of two excellent brands, Port Charlotte and Octomore. Their trials also resulted in the X4+3, the failed espionage droid designed to monitor English aggression.

Unfortunately it affixed itself to some schnook's head, became mayor of London and then totally upended the national economy. So perhaps it didn't entirely fail in its mission--

Sorry, X4+3 is a whisky. I was thinking of something else.

Having already created a triple-distilled single malt, known as Trestarig, Bruichladdich tried out a quadruple-distilled whisky in 2006. It came off the still at a heartwarming 90%abv. A year later they endangered Feis Ile attendees with X4+1 Deliverance, a spirit drink aged one year and bottled at 65.4%abv. Two years later, X4+3 Uisquebaugh Baul left the hangar, now a legal whisky, bottled at 63.5%abv. It was aged in a combo of ex-bourbon and virgin American oak casks. People experienced it and lived to tell the tale. Now it's my turn.

I had to steel myself with some recent Glenfarclas 105 (what is it, a 5yo now?) for this task.

Blogger won't let me display this content. Too many Xs.

The Review

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Ownership: Remy Cointreau
Age: 3 years
Bottling year: 2009
First Maturation: 50/50 mix of ex-bourbon and virgin American oak casks
Product full name: Bruichladdich X4+3 Uisquebaugh Baul
Alcohol by Volume: 63.5%
Limited Bottling: 15,000
Chillfiltered? No
Caramel Colorant? No
(Thanks to Brett, Patron Saint of Happy Pups, for the sample!)

The nose starts off with some creamy barley, salty butter and hay. Imitation vanilla extract. With time, some fruit notes roll in. Offseason apples and tinned pineapple. Reducing it to ~50%abv brings out some cinnamon and florals. More sugars. When reduced further to ~43%abv the nose is nearly gone. Light grainy notes, vanilla and caramel.

The palate is a much different creature. Medicinal and metallic with burnt barley and burnt herbs. Plenty of heat, of course. Some caramel, but more wool. And a mineral sparkle. When reduced to ~50%abv it loses some of those unique phenols, but picks up more sweetness. Peppery. Maybe some ham. Dropped to ~43%abv it gets sweeter still. The edge is gone. All that's left is caramel and brown sugar.

Not a lot going on in the finish. Mostly spicy ethyl, grass and a grain eau de vie. Some hints of ham and bitter burnt bread. When dropped to ~50%abv, it's hot, burnt and peppery, with tart lemon and a hint of florals. At ~43%abv, it's tangy and peppery.

Like yesterday's whisky, the nose and palate are totally different, but flipped around. The palate is kinda wacko, and I like it. Reminds me of the weirder refill cask Auchentoshan (triple-distilled) indies I've had. But the nose is almost grain whisky...with new oak. I have no idea if this linked to the very high alcohol content the X4 and grain whisky both have when they're fresh off the still. But the similarity is striking. The finish doesn't have much going on, but that's probably because it's young. I do like the eau de vie characteristic though. If the finish and the nose matched the palate, I'd be shouting "Get Some X4" right now. But they don't.

It's still worth a try if you can find a single pour somewhere, just for the palate's rude glory. I wish I could say that the X4 will blossom with additional aging, but there's a lot of new oak in there. Serge may have been on to something 10 years ago; the X4's peak might have been when it was born.

Availability - Scarce, you may have to search the auctions
Pricing - ???
Rating - 83 (just for the palate, don't add water please!)