Whisky Review: Cadenhead Single Cask Bruichladdich 1988 Aged 30 Years

Style: Fruity and Grassy

Nose:
Creamy yoghurt mixing nicely with tiny pineapple and melon chunks at the front, sweet and comfortable. Fresh-cut grass brushes magnify and transform into greater spearmint pulses, followed by some camphor and white peppercorns which makes the distillate quite bright and vibrant. The spirit hotness gradually subsides and give way to vanilla, almond milk and faint purple violet notes (floral, not soapy) to tuck in. Thinnest slice of canned peach, chilli flakes and macadamias at the back. Quite nice.

Palate:
Tropical fruits boiling down to syrupy form, passionfruit, pineapple, peaches, mandarin and even some strawberries in action to give a sweet head start. While there are plenty of fruitiness parading through the early-half, the herbaceous side of the spirit – mainly peppermint, Thai basil, mint and red chillies plays from the deep, anchoring as well as spiking up the expression. Some fruits make a comeback and go creamy, caramel beads rolling off white peaches. Carrot cake and oak shavings. Dry barley tail.

Finish:
Earthier and greener as the fruits making another slow retreat. Nutmeg and sawdust thinly cover over the summer fruits. A small strawberry reflux at the end.

Thoughts:
Although the label says it is a Bourbon cask, personally I do find there are minimal traces of sherry in this. Anyway, this is a rather vibrant Laddie which shows a good level of maturity. The fruits are condensed, softened and chiselled beautifully by time whereas the spirit remains strong, compact and controlled, making it gentle but focused. Granted, there are inherent limitations to old school unpeated Laddie, but this is as good as it gets. Just one step away from two stars.

☆ [Recommended]

Esmond

[48.9%| 1988 Distilled| 2018 Bottled| Independent Bottling| Single Cask | Cask Strength| Non Coloured| 174 Bottles| *+]

Whisky Review: Lagavulin 1977 25 Years Old Special Release 2002

Style: Spicy, Sweet and Smoky

Nose:
Round dark fruits and chocolate notes coating around the unyielding maritime, even slightly meaty spirit. Overripe strawberries, fig jam and blackcurrant gummies gradually give way to some spicy bird’s eye, unshucked oysters and limoncello. Mineral brushes and peat signatures forming alliance with black cardamom, nutmeg, stewed fruits at lower level. Deep sherry notes dialing back time and make another push. Malt biscuits to finish.

Palate:
Massive spice attack at the frontline, we are looking at Rare Malts level kind of bruteness here. Red chillies and searing-hot spirit punch a hole which allows the assorted sherry fruits to flow through it and build around its core. Limoncello, oysters, malt and peat prancing in the most sumptuous fashion – boy, this is why we love Laga! Aloe vera and iodine overtone swiftly dropping down to an earthier konjac side notes. Raisin chocolate, demerara sugar and even a taste of dark rum. Liquorice stroking with tar, some caramel cream at the end.

Finish:
Molten raisin chocolate bubbling gently, lemon candle and lobster shells shining through from the back, subtle but determined peated malt makes it stand.

Thoughts:
This is the classic, classy Lagavulin I know, this style of single malt at such a high calibre is so few and far between these days. Sure, the spiciness almost off the chart like most Rare Malts do (they are in similar vintage, similar bottling period after all), but in return it builds a Colosseum of space for the sherry and malt to roam and shine. Intense, but also satisfying. In terms of scoring/rating, maybe it is too blunt for some and probably with minimal cask fault hidden within, but it is still an incredibly good whisky.

☆☆ [Highly Recommended]

-Esmond

[57.2%| Original Bottling| 1977 Distilled| 2002 Bottled| Vatting | 9000 Bottles | Natural Cask Strength| Bottle Number: 7748| **]