Once these bottles of Bruichladdich whisky, distilled in 1984, 1985 and 1986, are sold, no more whiskies released from these years will be released.
Pardon the sudden onset of drama, but then again Bruichladdich has always been an ’emotional’ distillery. And in this instance, they’ve made it a point to give the last casks of these years a proper send-off: by bottling them as a series. Bruichladdich has christened them the Rare Casks, and they are the vatting of the last casks of that year, each showcasing the unique characteristics of whisky from a time that had long gone. Whisky drinkers, more than anyone, will understand that once a whisky is gone, you can never quite get something like that ever again.
There’s plenty of history alone in these bottles as, since the 80s, the distillery had changed hands multiple times – Invergordon’s independence from its parent company, Whyte & Mackay, the Mark Reynier era and then current owners Remy Cointreau.
It seemed rather appropriate that the launch was held at 酒庄 (Jiu Zhuang), which is heavily inspired by 1920’s Shanghai and serves up traditional fare that’s updated for modern palates. Furthermore, they serve up Xiao Long Bao that is filled with Bruichladdich Classic Laddie as a regular menu item. Invigorating stuff. But I digress.
Despite the fact that these casks would unlikely have a designated purpose, by sheer serendipity they’ve survived till today for a last hurrah. These three whiskies, as a set, show off three distinct styles of the Bruichladdich spirit of the era and reflect the input from three generations of caretakers.
The 1984/32 is made from 12 refill ex-bourbon casks and hogsheads. In 2008, they were re-casked into first-fill, ex-bourbon casks, and flavour-wise this has hints of classic pre-Reynier and Pernod Ricard Bruichladdich, and hence, this is the bridge where old and new meet. A nice touch of vanilla with citrus notes on the nose, and delicate zestiness with a hint of oak on the tongue. A delicate one that’s great for any occasion.
The 1985/32 consists of 22 casks initially filled in third-fill ex-bourbon casks which are not as active as first-fill casks. In 2012, they decided to re-cask and rejuvenated the spirit in fresh ex-bourbon casks and then matured further in a French oak wine cask from a ‘secret’ French chateaux. It’s an intriguing one with a large spectrum of smells and flavours, probably due to the influence of the wine cask. It adds some floral and orangey notes into the mix, which translates onto the palate well. It’s a lovely blend of traditional ex-bourbon cask coming together with a wine cask and the flavours seem to roll off the tongue slowly as you take your time with it. The 1985/32 shows how the subtle use of the right oak can give the whisky so much breadth. Wine casks traditionally were not considered as the best partners with malt until recently and this is another strong advocate for their use.
Lastly, the 1986/30 is made from just seven ex-oloroso casks that were then re-casked into pedro ximenez casks from winemaker Jan Pettersen at Fernando de Castilla of Jerez. This is pretty much all you’d expect from an oloroso and pedro ximenez mix and the complexity of the whisky comes through with sweetness and dryness in perfect harmony. For those who must have their long finishes, this one ends quite nicely. I was not looking forward to this initially due to a bias against sherried whiskies but I was glad to be wrong; multi-layered and without an over-dominant note, this is a ‘heavy’ sherry that can be drunk all day.
However, price-wise, let’s just say that the Rare Casks were not created for everyday drinking. At S$1,599 a bottle, these are whiskies for special occasions. But if you do want to try them out, pop down to La Maison du Whisky where they are offered as a flight for S$150++.
- There are still old casks within the warehouses, but they will never be released as part of a vintage
- Brain farts are a way for my body to tell me I’m not having enough whisky, it seems… Despite Chloe Wood’s busy schedule preparing for Feis Ile, she still managed to find a second to spot my boo-boo: Remy Cointreau la, not Pernod Ricard! Haha amateur writers these days… tsk!