Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Interesting Whiskies

This week I had the chance to try two interesting whiskies. I won’t be doing a full review on either, but rather brief descriptions and a few thoughts.

Bruichladdich “The Laddie 10” (pronounced “Brook-laddy”)

The New Yorker magazine recently had a really interesting article on this distillery, which was mothballed for years before being revived by some creative, independent folks. The owners and distillers did such a good job that they were ultimately bought out by a large beverage brand. Because the distillery was low on quality stock, they had to put out all sorts of interesting releases to keep the buzz going, because their new make was too young for age statements. For example, their entry level whisky is called “Rocks,” a nod to the ancient rocks the water runs through before the distillery turns it into the “water of life.” The Laddie Ten represents a benchmark in the distillery’s history, a standard 10 year bottling that won Islay whisky of the year in Whisky Advocate Magazine when it was released. Some reviewers say it was overhyped due to the distillery’s interesting story, but by all accounts it’s a fine whisky, and a good value at about $45. What’s interesting about it is that thought it’s an Islay, it’s “unpeated,” meaning the barley is not dried over peat smoke, and yet it’s fairly peaty in character due to the water source. In any case, it’s a nice pour, a bit of peat but nothing like a Laphroaig, Lagavulin, etc. Creamy and malty, but not the smoothest whisky around, with a bit of bite at 92 proof.

New Holland Beer Barrel Bourbon

Many of you will have had a bourbon barrel age beer, this bottling flips that concept on its head. New Holland is a craft brewer that added a distillery more recently. They distill all sorts of spirits, including a hopped whisky they call Hopquila. The whisky I had is a sourced whisky, it’s bourbon distilled and aged by Indiana Distillers, and New Holland ages it for several months longer in casks that held their Dragon’s Milk beer, casks which originally held bourbon. Talk about full circle. One reviewer called this a novelty whisky, but at $30 I felt it worth a try. It’s not a bad whisky. I found it a bit simpleminded, but there is definitely some sort of beer influence that enhances the flavor. A nice change-up, and I always like supporting the craft movement.

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