This weekend the Whisky Festival in The Hague was held. It is one of the largest whisky festivals in Europe, I believe and this year that resulted in quite some interesting masterclasses. Another benefit of the move to The Hague is that there was an option to book masterclasses without going to the festival, effectively saving me 45 euros.
The Jim McEwan masterclass was the first in a line of three sessions, more or less back-to-back with only a half hour break in between each one.
Jim talked a lot about life on Islay, and what the distillery is doing for the small island community. Not much information I did not already know, but very nice to hear it directly from one of the people involved. The stories went from his pre-school, his coopering days at Bowmore to the new Bruichladdich 10 year old, the Laddie Ten. Everything in between came by as well, so there was a lot of information.
Between all the stories were some whiskies, of course, and we got a very nice impression of the variety of styles that come from Bruichladdich.
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2004
A very new bottling, that has only been around for a week or two. On the nose there was vanilla, some crisp lemon and malted barley. The taste was rather sharp and crisp, but also a hint of a graininess. The young whisky shows its age but not in a bad way. The finish was quite long, with malted barley, vanilla and some lemoncurd.
The Laddie Ten was next, but I already reviewed that a while ago.
Bruichladdich 17 Rum Cask
The rum cask is obvious from the start. Bruichladdich tends to be fruity on its own, but this one was exaggerated in that aspect. Very smooth and gentle on the nose with quite some sweetness, in a sugary way. Sponge cake with tropical fruit, vanilla and a little marzipan. On the palate it was even sweeter with a little bite to it. Lots of tropical fruit like mango and some wood. The finish is mouth coating with more fruit, caramel, vanilla and more fruit.
Bruichladdich Infinity 3
A newer batch of one of the first Bruichladdichs I ever bought, some 7 years ago. This had a massive nutty aroma, with raisins and again, lots of fruit. Apart from the more classical sherry notes of dried fruit I also got red forest fruits. The palate was sweet and dry with a certain zing to it and the finish showed some bacon and maple syrup.
Octomore 4.1 – The Beast – 167 ppm
This one will get a more thorough review soon, so I’ll skip it here.
Bruichladdich Sherry Classic
And, as a good Bruichladdich oriented tasting ends, it goes with out with a bang called the Highland Toast. One foot on the table, one foot on the chair, screaming some Scottish words which made many people look up from the street below. No tasting notes, but good fun!
All in all a terrific, and very personal masterclass. Lots of information about how things work on Islay and at Bruichladdich. I really enjoyed it.