Bruichladdich Masterclass with Dan Woolley

The Eau de Vie Appreciation Society hosted a Bruichladdich Masterclass presented by Whisky Ambassador, Dan Woolley, also known as the Whisky Hunter.

Bruichladdich Masterclass with Dan Woolley
Bruichladdich Whiskies

Dan Woolley has an extensive knowledge of whisky and has recently returned from visiting several distilleries in Scotland and the isles. The masterclass was a whisky journey through the Bruichladdich range, from the unpeated to the most heavily peated whisky in the world.

The Bruichladdich distillery is located on Islay in Scotland and was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers who had a long family history of distillery ownership. In 1994, Bruichladdich closed down and by the end of 2000, a consortium of whisky lovers bought the distillery, disassembled it and built from the ground up taking the distillery in a different direction. In 2001, they employed master distiller Jim McEwan, a whisky veteran with over 50 years experience who originally started as a cooper in 1963.

Every whisky in the Bruichladdich range is made using trickle distillation, has a minimum of 46% ABV, is non-chill filtered and has no caramel added.

Bruichladdich Masterclass with Dan Woolley
Dan Woolley

The tasting journey began with the Laddie Classic, made from 100% Scottish barley, trickle distilled, and matured in Quercus Alba ex bourbon barrels American oak. The whisky is unpeated and has an ABV of 46%. It bears no age statement which simply means it is made to a flavour profile and not an age. It contains whiskies that are 7 to 9 years of age. The Laddie Classic is considered the typical of the Bruichladdich DNA. It has honey and citrus on the nose with a hint of cereal, an oily mouthfeel coating the mouth with tropical fruit. The finish is a little sweet with a hint of salt at the end.

The next whisky was testament that the terrain of Islay plays an integral part in the flavour of the whisky. Islay Barley 2006 is the first 100% true Islay whisky. The spirit is made from grain grown in the Minister’s Field, distilled at 50% ABV and bottled on Islay giving a liquid that truly reflects the terroir of the Scottish isle. Aged exclusively in American oak ex bourbon casks, it has notes of vanilla, soft ripe fruit and explodes on palate with earthiness and an oily mouthfeel.

Staying with the unpeated range, The Laddie Sixteen (46% ABV) contains 16 year old whisky that has been aged exclusively in American ex bourbon casks. Considered to be the perfect bottling age, the spirit has a sweet nose of tropical fruit and pineapple, evident spice and sweet oak on the finish.

Bruichladdich Masterclass with Dan Woolley
Eau de Vie Bar

Moving onto the heavily peated range, Port Charlotte Scottish Barley Heavily Peated bears no age statement and is peated at 40 ppm with an ABV of 50%. It’s a cross between Laphroaig and Lagavulin, Dan Woolley explained. On the nose, the peat is evident with sweet smoke aromas, and on the palate, there is sweet vanilla from the American oak with notes of roasted almonds and marzipan. Remarkably smooth, the finish is long with lingering smoke followed by the sweetness of the vanilla.

Port Charlotte 10 yo Heavily Peated is aged in ex bourbon and approximately 20% sherry casks, peated at 40 ppm but with a lower ABV of 46%. Unlike its unaged sibling, it has a lot more spice on the nose and the palate from the sherried oak which tends to subdue its smoky character. There is complexity in this dram to be enjoyed, but smoke and spice compete on the palate. If you like your whisky with a lot of smoke and maritime character, the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley delivers on all counts.

Bruichladdich Masterclass with Dan Woolley
Octomore 6.1

“It makes Ardbeg look like a little girl,” was Dan Woolley’s introduction to the Octomore 6.1, the world’s most heavily peated whisky. “If Metallica was a whisky, it would be Octomore,” he added. With such introduction, the single malt was more of an experience than a dram.

The first Octomore was born in 2003 and had 80 ppm compared to Ardbeg’s 50 ppm. The current expression of 6.1 is bottled at cask strength of 57% ABV and is most heavily peated whisky at 167 ppm. However the liquid is not as mind-blowing or assaulting to the senses as one expected.

The dram retains the Bruichladdich character with aromas of sweet vanilla, delicate floral and citrus from the American oak along with the pleasant and addictive bonfire in the mouth. “Titanic amounts of peat” is an apt description. The finish is very long and peated and keeps giving after a couple of minutes. Only 3000 to 6000 bottles are available globally and in Australia, it retails at $170 RRP which is a worthy investment for a whisky of this calibre.

The Eau de Vie Appreciation Society Bruichladdich Masterclass with Dan Woolley was held on Wednesday, 11 June 2014 at Eau de Vie bar in Darlinghurst.

Photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.


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About the author

Corinne Mossati

Corinne Mossati is the Founder/Editor of popular online magazine Gourmantic and Cocktails & Bars, a website dedicated to cocktail culture and the discerning drinker. She is named in Australian Bartender Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential List since 2013, is a member of The Academy responsible for judging the World’s 50 Best Bars. She has also judged the inaugural Australasian Whisky Awards and various national cocktail competitions.