Gordon & MacPhail 'Connoisseurs Choice' (distilled at Bladnoch), 13 year old, 1991 Vintage, 46%
Single Malt Scotch | $70.00
Subtle elegance, creamy, and extremely drinkable. Mouthwatering fruity notes (lemon, lime, tangerine, passion fruit) marry well with notes of fresh-cut grass, vanilla, and honey. Very clean too and nicely balanced! When I drink a Lowland whisky this good, I am saddened by all of the Lowland distilleries that have gone silent over the past 25 years, knowing what we have lost.
The revival of Bladnoch Distillery in southwest Scotland continues, with the launch of 15 and 25 year old expressions to add to the NAS Samsara (reviewed winter 2016). Talia has been finished in new American oak casks. Sweet and floral on the nose, with violets, Jaffa orange, and fragrant fresh oak. Medium to full-bodied, with rich fruit notes, praline, malt, and finally, raisins and prunes. Dark oak in the long, mouth-drying finish.
Scotch Malt Whisky Society (50:42) 18 year old, 56.9%
Single Malt Scotch | $130.00
Distilled in Scotland’s most southerly distillery of Bladnoch in October 1992, this bottling has been matured in a refill hogshead, and 150 bottles have been allocated to the U.S. It presents a fresh nose, with initial herbal notes, turning to cornflakes and newly-mown hay. Sweet and fruity on the palate, with oat biscuits and milk chocolate. The finish is relatively short, with spicy custard, then a final fruit flourish.
Scott Selection (distilled at Bladnoch) vintage, 59%
Single Malt Scotch | $75.00
Gold color. Citrus zest aromas and creamy sweet notes-reminiscent of lemon meringue pie-with subtle tropical fruit and marshmallow notes dancing throughout. This whisky has great balance and is fully mature at 12 yrs., which should be no surprise for a Lowland whisky. The palate delivers what the aroma promises, with a touch of honey up front, citrus and vanilla in the middle, and a delicate dryness on the finish. I've always admired Bladnoch-a whisky that needs to be better known-and this expression reinforces my opinion.
John MacDougall's Selection (distilled at Bladnoch), 16 year old, 55.8%,
Single Malt Scotch | $120.00
Bright gold color, and bright in flavor. Very much in the Bladnoch style, with honey-kissed lemon, tangerine, kiwi, creamy vanilla, lightly toasted marshmallow, marzipan, cut grass, and hay. Richly textured for a Lowland, and palate-coating (a tad oily, too!). The extra years have added some depth, while still retaining a youthful zest. Very enjoyable.
Samsara’s (reviewed winter 2016) younger sibling Adela presents an altogether different profile, having been matured in oloroso casks. Like Samsara, it has not been chill filtered. The nose is nutty, with quite dry sherry notes and prickly spice. Finally, fragrant toffee emerges. Very supple in the mouth, where the sherry becomes sweeter, along with black currants, licorice, and then black pepper. The finish is medium in length, dry, and peppery.
Bladnoch 1993, Gordon & MacPhail Connoisseurs’ Choice range, 43%
Single Malt Scotch | $70.00
This most recent Connoisseurs’ Choice bottling from Scotland’s southernmost distillery has been matured in refill sherry hogsheads. The nose is pleasing and light, mildly herbal, with cut grass, citrus fruits, and a hint of malt. Medium-bodied, sweet and fruity in the mouth, with peaches, nuts, and discreet spice. Relatively lengthy in the creamy finish. Very drinkable and quite substantial.
Hunter Laing Old Malt Cask 20 year old (distilled at Bladnoch), 50%
Single Malt Scotch | $115
One of the first releases from the recently formed Hunter Laing & Co, established in Glasgow by Stewart Laing, is this 20 year
old expression of Bladnoch. It was distilled in November 1992 and matured in a refill sherry cask. Lemon cake, honey, and ginger nuts on the pleasing nose; fruity and spicy on the palate, with a savory flourish, and a honey and malt backdrop. Spicy caramel and mocha coffee in the finish. £75
Samsara is a combination of 8 to 10 year old whiskies matured in first-fill bourbon barrels and California red wine hogsheads, bottled non-chill filtered. Initially slightly savory on the nose, then peaches and cream, and soft spices. The palate is supple and sweet, with vanilla, mango, and passion fruit. The finish is long, with spicy pears. Drier spices emerge and ultimately, light tannins. The red wine influence is greatly enhanced by the addition of a few drops of water. £60
Following on from the official 8 year old release of Bladnoch, distilled and matured under the current Raymond Armstrong regime, comes a 9 year old variant in the familiar distillery label series. It offers a spring-like nose of cereal, freshly-squeezed lemon juice, meadow flowers, and a hint of milky coffee. Spicy toffee, apples, honey, and ginger on the palate, which finishes with a floral note, lemon, apples, and lively oak. £40
John McDougall's Selection (distilled at Bladnoch), 15 year old, 55.8%
Single Malt Scotch | $110.00
The only distillery-approved bottling of Bladnoch in the United States. When compared to the Gordon & MacPhail bottling above, this one isn’t as sweet or creamy in texture. There’s more citrus fruit and a drier, spicier finish. This one is also bolder and a bit more aggressive.
Exclusive Malts 1992 (distilled at Bladnoch), 48.1%
Single Malt Scotch | $150
Maturation for this 21 year old bottling of Bladnoch occurred in a refill American oak hogshead. Sweet orchard fruits, new-mown hay, malt, and soft toffee on the nose. The palate is initially fruity, with more malt, then nuttiness develops, with aniseed and black pepper. The finish is relatively short and tannic. (U.S. only)