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Friday, December 2, 2022

Bruichladdich 32 year old 1985 Rare Cask Series

I reviewed the first half of a 64 year old (is that how math works?) Bruichladdich Taste Off yesterday. The 32yo 1984 held the distillery's final casks from 1984, while today's 1985 was built from the final parcel of its own vintage. While the '84 was only re-casked from bourbon casks into fresher bourbon casks, the '85 needed more retooling, per Señor McEwan. This larger outturn spent 27 years in 3rd-fill ex-bourbon, then 5 years in 1st-fill ex-bourbon, then several months in Claret casks. Smells like Murray McDavid to me!

Distillery: Bruichladdich
Ownership at time of distillation: Invergordon Distillers
Region: Western Islay
Series: Rare Cask
Age: 32 years (1985 - 26 May 2017)
Maturation: see above
Outturn: 4200 bottles
Alcohol by Volume: 48.7%
(from a bottle split)


The nose begins with many of the same characteristics as the 1984, such as the minerals, limes, fennel, and orange oil. But it has more more chocolate, more shortbread. Hints of ocean and florals, and subtle touches of blackberries and dried currants.

Could the wine casks have helped correct the oakiness that plagued the 1984? Or hid it? The palate isn't winey, though its dryness reads more like dry wine than woody tannins. Tart citrus notes read louder than the sweet berry notes. Some honey here, a few marshmallows there. Sweeter citrus slowly moves to the foreground.

It finishes moderately oaky and sweet. Honey, berries, cayenne appear in order, joined by a slight bitterness.


I enjoyed this one more than the all-bourbon-cask 1984. More complex and less extractive, this 1985 made for pleasant drinking, while reading less hot than its lower-abv predecessor. As often happens, its casks were unmasked in the finish, and its balance started to teeter. Both of these 32s had unusually short conclusions, considering their age, as well. They were a bit of a disappointment overall, compared to the two fabulous 1985 DNAs.

Time to go to a different "B" distillery...

Availability - Secondary Market
Pricing - ???
Rating - 86