There’s some exciting stuff coming out of Bruichladdich at the moment, including “The Sixteens”, a range of 16 year old whiskies finished in first growth Bordeaux wine cask finishes.
Now, I know there are some naysayers out there who are critical of the fact thatin 2009 the distillery released 27 different expressions – some better than others, but what I’ve got here is a new one, and it’s a goodie.
It’s one of the six first growth finishes, “The Sixteen” Pauillac. A brilliant copper colour, the nose has quite a pungent solvent beginning, but if you give it enough time to settle down, it settles down and you really get the wine influence with soft black cherries and a tiny hint of rolled oats. This is followed by sweet orange sherbet, stewed raspberries and blackcurrants served over a strawberry cheesecake. The nose then goes a bit sideways with a very subtle hint of crab baskets in the sun, dusty gravel, and milk chocolate. Adding a drop of water takes the edge off the 46% strength and releases an amazing whack of sweet, ground cinnamon at Christmas punching through the middle. Warm, earthy summer vegetables skirting around the edges, and a touch of lemonade – but that sweet cinnamon lingers forever!
The palate starts off very dry and oaky with toasted sesame seeds, but the texture is soft and full-bodied. The seaside is all over this with fresh fish and seaweed, creamy tartar sauce, and salty crab baskets. Water transforms this whisky, and brings out flavours which make more sense with the nose. It gets sweeter with wine gums and melon juice, and the finish dries like bonfire ash and cinnamon.
This is a lovely whisky. When you look at it, the copper colour is enhanced by a thick oily looking texture which invites you into the glass, and you really feel that texture with a creamy richness. The nose is fresh and thick, the fruit notes are a real pleasure, but it gets a little odd with the dry seaside character – which personally, I find a little overpowering. I struggled with the middle of this as the flavours seemed a bit random and unusual, but when the palate followed on from this it was actually pretty good, like being in a Mediterranean fishing village at the height of summer. By taking a bit of time and a touch of water it’s rich, lively, sweet, and a breath of year-long Christmas.