Distiller: Bruichladdich. 50% ABV. No age statement. Region: Islay. Price: $50-60.
Couldn’t have more respect for Bruichladdich, but the Scottish Barley “Classic Laddie” does not show the distillery at its best.
The name recalls the much-loved Laddie 10 it replaced–a modern classic if there ever was one, and an amazing deal while it lasted–but the comparison does the current offering no favors.
Very dry nose, with barley and wet hay. The palate is medicinal, with iodine and band aid notes that mimic the entry of certain heavily peated Islays such as Laphroaig or Bruichladdich’s own Octomore, but the Classic Laddie is unpeated, leaving you with just enough of a reminder of the familiar Bruichladdich malt to leave you yearning for their better offerings. Long sourish finish. Water and time do little to sweeten the deal.
Sad to say, but my advice is to give this one a miss. Incidentally, if you’re anywhere near Greece, I’ve heard rumors the Laddie 10 is still on the shelves there. Maybe time to plan a trip? – BO
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Distiller: Caol Ila. 43% ABV. Age: 12 years. Region: Islay. Price: $55.
The lovely Caol Ila. The lightest of all the Islay malts, prized by blenders, though often — and unjustly — overlooked in its pure form. Showing great restraint among its brasher, peatier cousins, this one should be on your shortlist for summer single malts.
The nose carries herbal, almost floral hints and, perhaps, a touch of smoked meats on the back end. The palate, perhaps my favorite of the Islays after Lagavulin, is clean, with subtle smoke and oil. The finish warms with spice.
An absolute joy. – TM
Distiller: Laphroaig. Region: Islay. ABV 43%. Age: 30 years.
The 30-year-old Laphroaig. For a peat fanatic, this is a towering achievement. An absolute must if you can ever find it–not because it’s so peaty, but because the peat is so perfectly melded into the whole experience. What better way to celebrate the distillery’s 200th anniversary in 2015?
The nose brings a glorious combination of fruit, oak, sherry, and peat. The palate is an unbelievably smooth peat, along with a subtle hint of spice. The finish is consistent with the whole; warming, inviting, confident.
Very glad to have sampled this now largely lost classic. Cheers, friends! – TM
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Distiller: Bowmore. 59.1% ABV. Age: 13 years (distilled 2001, bottled 2014), refill sherry finish. Region: Islay.
Signatory/K&L picked a real winner here. Rich, unctuous, bewitching. Nose starts out smokey and oily with young Granny Smith apples and butterscotch. At full 59.1% it’s a hurricane in your mouth. Endless buttery richness with an overtone of…grapefruit?
Add a splash of water it’s fantastic: just a touch of smoke now, close to the Springbank 12 CS, with more butter, malt, sugar cookies, and a hint of mustard powder (odd, but great).
Bowmore’s had some rough years and some misfires like the Darkest, but this bottle is a claim to greatness. – BO
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