Distiller: Bruichladdich. ABV: 49.2%. Age: 23 years. Region: Islay. Price: $250-300.
The redoubtable but rather puzzling Black Art 4th Edition — the latest, and as it turned out, last mystery release by Bruichladdich master distiller Jim McEwan before his 2015 retirement.
As with previous releases, McEwan kept the details on what went into this a secret. All we know is that v.4 was aged in American and French oak, and the juice came from the very limited remaining stocks the distiller has from before its 1994 closing. (Bruichladdich reopened in 2001.)
Tried the 3rd edition last year and it knocked me out–marvelously rich, with dry fruit and endless complexity. This one starts out lovely, then hits with a sour, funky finish I couldn’t get my head around. Tried, waited, tried again, but it wasn’t for me.
Love the distillery, the mystery, the image–just not the juice this time around. – BO