Thank you again to /u/HawkI84 for a sample of this malt!
It’s extremely sad to hear that Jim McEwan is retiring. Not because I love his malts, more so because I think he needs to work until he dies.
Joking aside (that was a joke?), it’s sad to hear because rarely do we see a distillery bring out a whisky and just get the marketing right, all by itself. This is a rare whisky. It’s shrouded in mystery, with only Jimbo knowing what’s in it.
The outside perfectly matches this ideal. It looks to be something you’d be excited to see at your weekly Satanic orgy (I know I was). The dark box gives only a little away, along with the rest: It’s 22 years old, and we only know that because the Bruichladdich Black Art 3 webpage and bottle says so.
It’s aged in casks from “many different nations”, leading us to imagine sherry, port, bourbon, red wine, brandy, gin, and many more, yet never gives anything else away.
I’m a marketer. I like to believe I’m not drawn in by things like this, because I understand them. However even I, the stalwart amaze-balls marketer, can’t help but be wowed by this whisky.
And I haven’t even had it yet! Yes folks, this is the Matrix of Whisky (not the sequels): It leaves you wondering and wanting more.
So let’s see how this enigma wrapped in a riddle, burritoed into a labyrinth tastes, shall we?
Price: No longer available at the LCBO
Age: 22 years
Colour: 10R 3/6
Nose: Strawberry-rhubarb crumble, iodine, plum, caramel, ginger, papaya, linseed oil, cooked oranges
There’s definitely some sherry influence here, however this isn’t just a sherry bomb. It’s actually quite balanced and subtle. Takes awhile to pull at the different elements, and they keep coming.
I haven’t remembered the smell of linseed oil since art class. That’s weird.
Taste: Rhubarb, caramel, salty, ginger, liquorice, cruller doughnut, whipped cream, mango juice
Again, it’s not blasting out flavours, it’s balancing them and sending them all at you at once. Think legion rather than juggernaut.
Takes awhile, again, to really pick it all apart. I know I enjoy this. Just not how much.
Finish: Smoke, currant, papaya, dry, lime zest, gooseberry, butter, candied ginger, apple juice
Again, complex. The finish makes you realize the taste is just okay in comparison. And also has some flavours I had trouble identifying.
Conclusion: It’s been a long time since I’ve had a whisky that I didn’t think I could review properly. And while it may be stress on my life, the bottle opening during transit, or perhaps I’m just still too new to reviewing, I feel like there’s gaps in this whisky.
Ignoring the above, this has an amazing finish. And the finish made me realize the taste was just okay, and that’s odd. The nose was again, unique, yet the finish out does it. And no memories are sent up, even though they should because a lot of the tastes I did get were like baking with my Grandma.
So I’m at a little bit of a problem. I believed this was amazing before trying it, yet after trying it think it’s interesting, complex, and unique… yet not all at the same time. I think there’s gaps that keep it from being much higher. So I give it the score I give it, and hope that when I crack the bottle of 4, it’ll be better.
But we’ll have to see. In the meantime, I’ll be on the hunt for samples of 1 and 2.
Scotch review #312, Islay review #68, Whisky network review #462