Whisky Advocate

Whisky Advocate Award: Islay Single Malt of the Year

February 9th, 2012

Bruichladdich 10 year old, 46%, $57

There were any number of contenders for this: Kilchoman’s 100% Islay, the latest Special Release Port Ellen, Lagavulin’s stellar single cask Jazz Festival release, but the winner shaded it because it has something extra: symbolism.

In the decade that has passed since Bruichladdich’s reopening, the distilling team has had to contend with a hole in stocks — the result of the distillery’s closure — and the quality of the wood filled by its previous owner. They also had to make noise in order to ensure that the warm and fuzzy feeling generated by Bruichladdich’s re-emergence was maintained.

The way they answered these issues was by releasing a multiplicity of bottlings, often finished in different casks. While Bruichladdich was never far from the headlines, fans of the distillery and its people (and I count myself as one) began to wonder where Bruichladdich was underneath this plethora of different flavors and marketing bullshit. I wanted a marker. I wanted a bottling that said, “This is what we are, everything else is a variation on this theme.”

The 10 year old does just that. It is uncluttered by finishing and marketing; it is Bruichladdich, pure, clean, simple, identifiable. It says, “One chapter has finished, now the work starts;” it says, like Alice’s transforming liquid, “DRINK ME!” and that, let us not forget, is what whisky is all about. —Dave Broom

Tomorrow’s Whisky Advocate Award announcement will be the Highland Single Malt of the Year.

No Responses to “Whisky Advocate Award: Islay Single Malt of the Year”

  1. ps says:

    I couldn’t agree more. A wonderful whisky!

  2. Andre Girard says:

    With so many different cask finishes, at one point, i was wondering where Bruichladdich would like to take us…

    I understand the owners needs money to restart and to stay in business, but it seems the distillery was searching to define its own style, find their singularity. With a dozen new expression each year, lots of new experimentations on cask finishes, making Gin, etc etc…bloody hell, where do you guys wanna take us ?!

    Really love what Reynier and McEwan had done with the distillery, lot of interesting stuff, we can’t deny the experience and the vision of these guys. They really bring something new to the industry.

    I was missing a guideline to their distillery style. They may have found their new direction. Good news. I was waiting to open my botlle at home but it seems this may be the right moment to try it now.

  3. John Hansell says:

    For those of you who gave us a hard time about the limited availability of the Elijah Craig 20 year old and Macallan Royal Marriage, please take note. We selected this Laddie 10 over the very rare and hard to find Port Ellen Special Release and Lagavulin single cask Jazz Festival release: two great whiskies.

    Dave sums it up in one word: symbolism!

  4. David says:

    Can’t wait to try this, I have a bottle in hand, waiting to serve it next time I host my Scotch of the Month. Maybe I should get another one just for me.

  5. Joe Estes says:

    This whisky seems like a winner, and reasonably priced, which makes me wonder why it still hasn’t made it to parts of the US yet. I live in Atlanta and we have Rocks, Waves and Peat in just about every large liquor store, but still no Laddie.

    • Alex P says:

      I’ve seen it in NYC and Chicago in December, and hopefully it’s making its way elsewhere soon.

      • Texas says:

        Although we are usually on the short end of the stick with a lot of Scotches, it’s been in the Houston area for a few months now and I have a bottle. It’s good stuff.

  6. OudErnest says:

    Great choice. I really enjoyed tasting it and discussing it with the people from Bruichladdich at Whiskyfest.

  7. PeterD says:

    For the symbolism of it all, I would probably agree with the choice but in terms of the whisky’s taste, I didn’t find it all that appealing. When I think of Islays I think of the big Ardbegs, Laggy and Caol Ila (and more recently Kilchoman). Laddie 10 I found to be somewhat one-dimensional. Not a bad dram but nothing that I would easily identify as an Islay, let alone an exceptional one. I’m very glad to see that they’ve found a defining style…I’m just not in love with it.

    • Joe Estes says:

      I’m a peat and smoke guy, but Bunnahabhain has been making non-peated whisky for over a century. It’s a much a part of Islay’s distilling culture as the peat bombs we all love.

  8. Dave Danni says:

    I am stilling hoping to receive this wonderful Islay malt in California. The malts of Bruichladdich in the recent past have been all different and wonderful .I am looking forward to the Black Art 2 amongst others

  9. two-bit cowboy says:

    Congratulations to all the Lassies and Laddies that made this happen. Wonderful whisky and well deserving of this recognition.

  10. Alex P says:

    Well written and it sums-up my opinion too. Now I hope that the “bullshit” will dwindle as “the work starts,” and a more coherent stable of variations become the core family.

  11. Peter T. says:

    Love it! Great choice! I actually was at my favorite whisky bar last night and they were out of this, talk about being bummed out. I love the nose on this. Reminds me of warm butterscotch. Not your stereotypical Islay whisky with big peat and smoke but great none the less.

  12. Mark says:

    On behalf of all at Bruichladdich, thank you very much indeed for this recognition of our work. It means a lot to us.

    As Dave says, this is a symbolic moment in our evolution. Guests present at the launch of the Laddie 10 would have heard Bruichladdich Chairman Sir John Mactaggart’s speech “The first 10 years are the toughest”. Read it here:

    It has not been been easy, as some seem to think, to privately re-open a defunct distillery and establish a brand on this scale. It has never been done before. I can see why; it’s been a long and lonely road.

    Dave is not alone in his criticisms, which as a commentator on the sidelines, is his prerogative. They are valid. I am pleased we are now able to address them (see here as we finalise the definitive Bruichladdich line up for the next 100 years.

    We too have been desperately looking forward to showing people what we have been working towards, the “this is where we are” definitive 10 year old. But there is a catch: you have to survive for 10 years to have one.

  13. B.J. Reed says:

    Its to the credit of Bruichladdich that they have finally reached this point – One can argue with the journey but not the results.

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