Three Recently Announced Bruichladdich Expressions

Golder Still: Aged in rare “squat-hogsheads,” innovative casks tested in the late 1970s by US coopers who were trying to create the optimum cask shape. (The idea was to create a barrel shape that has more surface area enclosing a given volume of whisky, to increase the barrel’s ability to impart wood notes to the contents.) According to Mark Reynier (one of Bruichladdich’s executives): “There’s not much and it’s unrepeatable – but it’s a glorious, old-style whisky; a classic Laddie, all barley-sugar flavours with a golder hue.”

Sounds yummy. This expression is aged 23 years and is cask strength (bottled at 51% ABV). This is a limited edition; there are only 4,900 bottles (each is numbered) and should be on sale now, at least in the UK. If it makes it to the USA, expect to pay around $300 for a bottle.

Sherry 21: This also comes from the last of a line, but despite this it is a larger scale bottling which replaces the successful Twenty series of Bourbon-matured Bruichladdichs. The stocks of Sherry 21 are scheduled to last until 2010.

A bit of history on Sherry: The UK historically consumed a lot of it. Most Sherry, until about 1980, was shipped in bulk transport casks to be bottled closer to the consumer, e.g, in the UK. This practice was gradually phased out in the early 1980s and today virtually all Sherry is bottled in Spain, so it’s now much harder to get Sherry butts.

Think about it: Prior to the 1970s, empty Sherry butts almost literally littered the landscape in the UK. Storing aging whisky in them was a no-brainer (when distillers wanted to produce a Sherry-influenced dram). The reason that this Sherry 21 expression is the “end of the line” is that it’s much more difficult to get fresh Sherry butts today. I suppose that the real point about Sherry butts is that they used to be trash, thus cheap, and now they are still available much more expensive.

Again, quoting Mark Reynier: “Decent condition, authentic Oloroso butts are now almost as rare as hens’ teeth. […] This is the natural, real deal – rich, mellow, and warming whisky; an ideal winter night-cap with it’s hints of orange, apricot, plum, fig, and dates. For connoisseurs, these are two delicious extremes of Bruichladdich.  For us, they are  the end of a run. For both, they represent the end of an era.”

Sherry 21 replaces the Twenty series. So if you liked the 20, make sure to run out and get some while you still can! The Sherry 21 is bottle-strength, which for Bruichladdich is 46% ABV, and it will retail for around $175.

2001 Resurrection: Besides Port Charlotte, which was also first distilled in 2001 by the re-commissioned Bruichladdich, that is peated at ~40 ppm, another whisky was distilled in 2001, and it’s being bottled now as the 2001 Resurrection expression.

A very brief [recent] history of Bruichladdich: Bruichladdich was closed down In 1994. Stocks were still aging in warehouses, but the rest of the distillery (which had stood since 1881) was no longer producing new make spirit. Luckily for Bruichladdich, it was acquired by new, private ownership that re-awakened it in 2001 and spent six months refurbishing the Victorian-era machinery. All the many Bruichladdich expressions on sale by the new ownership since 2001 have been constructed from the stocks that were distilled prior to 1994 (with the exception of the “Sherry pair” that I wrote about a few months back here and here that was distilled in 1998; regardless, all spirit before 2001 was not made by the current owners).

The 2001 Resurrection expression is the first spirit that was distilled in the new/old distillery. Now this 2001 Resurrection expression takes its place alongside the other new spirits: Port Charlotte, Octomore, X4, and presumably many others to come.

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