I can’t claim to be overly familiar with Bruichladdich malts but I can tell you that, from what I have tried, I have been fairly well impressed. Although I was initially a little underwhelmed with the Port Charlotte Peat Project, I have enjoyed some fine drams from this distillery, with the Octomore being downright fantastic!
Bruichladdich, however, intrigues me more and more these days. As I have grown to love the robust, peated Islay and West Coast styles of whiskies, the idea of completely unpeated Islay drams seem to be an interestingly dichotomous idea. The Classic Laddie is a NAS whisky bottled at 50% abv and costs about $60 in my local liquor stores.
This is as good a time as any to sing the praises of Bruichladdich’s bottle presentations – I have yet to see one of this distillery’s offerings that I have not appreciated. From modern-looking cool factor to downright sexy looking, Bruichladdich is, in my opinion, at the top of the presentation game. This particular bottle is no different, with a squat, powder-blue bottle that stands out in a crowd.
As for the whisky itself, this dram is un-chill filtered and colouring free, which are both plus factors, in my book. Slightly hazy straw-gold, with thick, extremely stubborn legs – this is, for me, an enticing looking dram
In the Nose
I will hesitate to call the aromas above my glass complex, but there seems to be a subtle sophistication about what I am experiencing. Floral heather blossoms, a soft smokiness and an interesting, slate-like mineral quality are the first characteristics that I notice. The smokiness surprises me since this is an unpeated whisky, and I assume it must come from the char in the casks. With time, dusty cereal grains become more prominent, along with a bit of honey and vanillins join the party. It is a gentle but balanced and well-composed nose!
On the Tongue
Most of the aromas are also present on the palate… Oak tannins, subtle smoke, along with a bit of bourbony caramel and vanilla are most prominent. That floral-mineral character is also very noticeable, along with some cinnamon and cardamom. In and amongst these identifiable flavours, there is also an underlying malty graininess as well. It is quite delicious!
The finish at first seems a little on the short side but I eventually realize that this assessment is because of my impatient tendency to reach for another sip too soon. I would actually characterize the finish of The Classic Laddie as medium-long. An oaky, mineral, pencil shaving flavour arrives first but quickly makes way for a warm, peppery herbal-like sensation that reminds me of arugula. If you can exercise enough patience, this fades into a nutty, peppery, honey-drenched flourish.
I think the highest compliment I can pay this whisky is that “NAS” didn’t cross my mind once during any of my tasting sessions. There really was nothing young about this whisky. It’s not harsh, it’s not hot, and there’s way more going on than I expected. This is not to claim Bruichladdich’s The Classic Laddie to be a very complex dram, because it’s not. But this whisky is exceedingly well-composed and very delicious. The Classic Laddie reminds me, more than a little, of Highland Park 12, which is high praise, in my opinion. This whisky is drinkable and inviting but also interesting enough to be appreciated by those with more sophisticated palates.