Lordy-lord, this is one hell of a whisky. I’m still reeling from it, unsure what to write, aware that there are few words in the English language to describe such a taste experience; aware also that I’m having to review this whisky on an ironing board because my desk is too crammed.
The tiny bottle of whisky (I’m using a 3cl sample bought for me by Josh) now sits empty. How I wish it was full again or, if that’s too much to ask, there’s at least one drop at the bottom left for me. I’d pay good money to go through that again.
What I’ve just experienced has been a real treat. This whisky was distilled in November 1992 and bottled in June 2011, but Bladnoch actually stopped producing altogether between 1993 and 2000; this cask, I presume, simply lay in silence until production restarted again. It’d have been a real shame for Scotland had it closed down completely, for Bladnoch is one of only three Lowland distilleries left. (A quick summation of Scotch whisky geography can be found here.) This whisky came from a single cask; one of only 389 bottles produced, and it’s arrived at 50% strength and non chill-filtered, which essentially makes it a tad more oily but with much more flavour.
Its nose is quite superb, with a big helping of sweet malt greeting you first before the unmistakable aroma of raisin overtakes, matched with a pinch of spice. It quite quickly begins to resemble a most glorious fruit cake, encased in a golden syrup. It’s one that could be nosed for hours – a shame, perhaps, that I decided to pour it well past midnight.
But the nose is pleasantly deceiving: whilst it might seem to lead you down the malt/fruitloaf avenue, the taste is something completely different. And my, what a massive taste. It’s akin to chomping on the most delightful thick-cut orange marmalade. At 50% strength you’d be forgiven for thinking the alcohol would overpower anything else, but it merely serves to add to the almighty marmalade flavour that spectacularly powers through. Add water at your peril: I did for the final mouthful and instantly regretted it, for I had effectively castrated it. It’s not all marmalade madness, however, for a hint of spice comes through to balance it perfectly.
The marmalade is, thankfully, too strong for it not to be felt in the finish. There, the spice has a greater impact and some of the sweet malt comes through (which becomes stronger the more water you add). If you’re patient enough, wood emerges, along with traces of ripe apple and the freshness of cut grass. I’m writing this ten minutes after the last mouthful and I can still feel everything echoing around.
So, all in all, a quite delightful whisky and not wholly unlike the Thirty Year Old. It’s a great shame that I’m unlikely to ever try it again, but Bladnoch have created a gem that they ought to be proud of.
Nose 22 Taste 23 Finish 21 Balance 23