12 Barrels is not really a bottler of the traditional type. It’s actually a club of mutually interested friends who happened to buy several casks when casks were still sort-of affordable, and available. In the past they’ve released some very affordable bottles, but you would have to know one of the guys to be able to pry one loose.
This Bruichladdich came out a few years ago and when people have 11 year old Bruichladdich for sale for about € 60 per bottle, I’m willing to take a gamble and get myself one.
The Kilchoman they bottled, as well as the Tomatin and the Tullibardine were surprisingly good, after all.
Lots of malt, dry and slightly sweet. It’s strong, but not as strong as I expected. A bit of cork and hessian, with a whiff of engine oil. Some red apples, a bit of salinity.
Again, very strong. The ABV is quite noticable here. Very malty, with lots of chili heat. A bit of engine oil with apples, somehow. Slightly more mineral than on the nose, so some iron and apples, slate.
The heat lingers in your mouth, but is not as prominent on the way down. A bit warming. Not overly flavorful.
I respect someone’s patience for not bottling something that they like for 11 long years. And in this case I’m not entirely sure what more time in oak would have done. It’s a very strange whisky. It’s way stronger than 11 years in oak, with the angel’s share slowly taking some percentage points off, should be. And since there’s not too much oak flavor, I think this was a very tightly grained cask with not much interaction between spirit and wood happening.
That makes it a bit too strong, and makes it so that it doesn’t deliver enough flavor to be a dram I really like.