Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011
Our Islay Barley Series has always been a mission. For many years now we’ve sought to showcase the phenomenon of “terroir” in single malt whisky – the belief that soil, climate, micro-climate, geographic orientation, natural influences and local weather systems will influence the quality and flavour profile of the spirit, making it a unique expression of “place”.
Nowhere is this philosophy more important to us than here on Islay. Surely the conditions here on this westerly rock at the edge of the Atlantic must bring something extra to the barley and to our expressive, floral single malt whisky? Surely the airborne salt spray that washes the fields and our warehouses must leave its mark on cask and liquid?
This 2011 Islay barley release is distilled from barley grown on six western and central Islay farms.
The spirit has been matured in a combination of 75% first-fill American whiskey casks, 10% first fill Rivesaltes wine casks and 15% second and third fill sweet wine casks [from some of the world’s greatest sweet wine estates!]. These casks gently influence this vibrant spirit, allowing the true flavours of Islay terroir to be tasted.
Character – A sweet spot in the maturation of an incredible whisky. A chance to see the elements at work as the young spirit showing green fruits, apple, pear and gooseberry transitions to peach, apricot and mango with the influence of time. The careful selection of casks holds this moment perfectly in the balance as their contribution to the ageing of the spirit brings oak depth, vanilla and coconut sweetness and lemon/grapefruit zest without overpowering the sweetness of the malt or the profound cereal notes that come from the Islay grown barley. The structure is firm, the texture luxurious, carrying the DNA of this island.
Colour – Fresh Cut Straw.
Nose – From the outset this is overtly floral and fruity. Slow distillation yet again brings out the best from the Islay grown Barley, the abundance of soft fruit notes and delicate floral style of this dram is shared with our past Islay grown releases. Typical Bruichladdich style fruit notes of crisp apple and ripe pear along with peach and dried apricot are further enhanced with lemon drops, grapefruit and orange zest. There is a vast array of flavour rising from this whisky as it opens further. The oak and cereal components come through after the fruit, pipe tobacco and vanilla notes mingle with barley sugar and caramel wafers, as ever a distinct marine tang hangs in the air.
Finish – The finish is about the fruit, dried apricot from the oak and lemon, kiwi and caramel wafer. A warm sand, marine note lingers as the Islay maturation tells its part of the story. As this whisky lingers on the palate it puts you in mind of the construction and structure to its form. Each element, distillation, time, cask and barley have a clear influence yet not one dominates another as this whisky reaches a crossroads in its development. This vintage is at the perfect stage to appreciate all that it is as it lays bare its DNA, its philosophy and its quality.