Back from my trip, with contraband

So good to be back! We put about 850 miles on the Prius, averaged 51 mpg (not bad for a car that’s nearly 5 years old!). When I got back, my friend from Amsterdam had delivered my Ardbeg Corryvreckan, a special-edition members-only bottling that I had bought from Ardbeg and had shipped to a different friend in the UK. Boy, the things I have to do to get whisky! 🙂

As a collector, I find it inconvenient to know about some product and be told that I can’t have it. Luckily I have lots of friends in the UK and Europe who frequently travel to my part of California. It’s totally legal to carry in a bottle, but you can’t ship it to the US. Isn’t that weird? I had a friend pick up a bottle of Highland Park 21 for me last Spring when it was first available (travel retail ONLY) when he returned from India via Heathrow. He went a little overboard and brought back 6 bottles, which may have been a tad over the limit. They weren’t all for me. 😉

Back to Bruichladdich: First things first, the distillery is known for its distinctly un-Ileach style, floral whiskies bottled at 46% ABV (non-cask-strength). I say “un-Ileach” because the reputation of Islay is that you will get peaty/smokey whisky from there, and Bruichladdich is neither. Well, not at the beginning it wasn’t. Let’s just say that the they don’t feel confined by your expectations.

In the process of acquiring and reopening the distillery, the new owners acquired the existing stocks of whisky patiently aging in the warehouses, so they immediately started bottling new expressions. They bottled 10-, 12-, 15-, 17-, 18- and 20-year-old expressions that are referred to as “mood malts” on their web site.

The marketing materials distributed with each of these notes that they are all mixed with Islay spring water to bottling strength of 46% ABV. This is great so that each expression can be directly compared and there is little need to add water. While all these have been described variously as “floral,” they are each vatted malts and composed whisky from a variety of cask types, in unique proportions. Each of these has been a limited edition and occasionally the more popular ones have been re-issued as a “second edition” or even “third edition.”

I found it interesting that Bruichladdich made a big deal about their use of Islay spring water until I realized that they are unique in using Islay-sourced water in the production of their whisky. (Presumably this means that the other distillers on Islay import some or all of the water that they use; I’m still learning about the whisky business and I can’t say for sure whether that is true or not.)

On these initial bottlings, the water was used to mix down the alcohol percentage from cask strength to 46%. On the new make spirit being produced now, one imagines that Islay water is involved from the start. Barley to bottle, baby!

Next, I’ll explore some of the more limited-edition bottlings. BTW, if you count all the ages and editions, there are nearly 10 expressions in the “mood malt” series, each hitting a nice spectrum of very drinkable malt whisky.


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