Whisky Advocate Award: Islay Single Malt of the Year
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.