In a little over three hours’ time, Usain Bolt will seek to defend his Olympic 100m title. It’s only fitting that, in true Caribbean style, we review some rum-finished whisky in eager anticipation of the forthcoming race. Thankfully, we spent a little longer than 9.58 seconds reviewing our whisky.
‘Rum-finished whisky?’ I hear you say. Indeed. Yes, it’s Scotch whisky (Bruichladdich is a fine Islay distillery) but remember that a cask is responsible for about 70% of any whisky’s flavour, and casks almost never come from Scotland itself. The Rum Cask spent 15 years maturing in American white oak barrels that used to house Jim Beam bourbon before being carefully transferred to Guyana’s finest Renegade Rum casks, spending a final two years in quiet darkness.
So is the Bruichladdich merely a fad? Is two years in a rum cask enough to impart sufficient flavour? The answer arrives instantaneously as an almighty whoosh of rum greets your olfactory senses like a Caribbean carnival. The rum, fresh and sweet, carries with it coconut, light butter and vanilla elements that gently intermingle. Burnt sugar, sizzling atop fresh lime transports anyone who noses this to a sunny, Caribbean beach, relaxing with a cocktail close to hand. It is an Islay whisky like no other: not a heavily-peated oily engineer, but a smooth, relaxed athlete. Why athlete? Because despite the heavy Caribbean influence there’s a V8 engine under this whisky that’s barely detectable but commands respect. You can take the whisky out of Islay…
When it hits the tongue, the sweetness disappears. It’s dry, the smoke comes through, the rum chases it and they run abreast before spice overtakes. It’s light but powerful. It morphs and evolves, lingering long enough for the emergence of delightfully spiced orange dipped in fine dark chocolate.
This complex balancing act reaches a lightly peated, smokey finish. The rum comes first, followed by smoke. The Islay engine then turns off: fresh coconut now abounds, leaving a buttery sweetness that is encapsulated by the fine aroma of rum now dancing freely throughout the mouth. Idiosyncratic, yes, but I use that as a compliment. Bruichladdich have been bold and, whilst not quite a gold medal this time, the Rum Cask makes a strong case for a podium position.
Nose 22 Taste 19 Finish 22 Balance 21