[Review] Bruichladdich - Islay Barley 2009 50%

Today is my first post dedicated to a Bruichladdich bottle. Being a massive Islay fan, it is also the first Bruichladdich bottle I have bought, which means that I now own at least a bottle from each distillery on Islay. But why this particular one though, as I like peaty whisky and Bruichladdich is not particularly peaty. I could have bought a Port Charlotte (their peaty range) or even an Octomore (amongst the most heavily peated also produced at the distillery). Well first, any Octomore bottle will set you back at least £120-£150, so not really what I wanted to spend on a bottle to drink. Don't get me wrong though, they are cracking drams, just a bit pricey. Then, I got to try the 2007 Bruichladdich Islay Barley in France last summer and thought it was very good, taking me back to the distillery with tastes of sea-side and salty barley. Most of my other Islay bottles are peaty too (apart from Bunnahabhain) so I thought it was time for a different experience.
It took me some time to get round to Bruichladdich. I remember the first time I came across some of their bottles being put off by their rather modern packaging. The use of metal tubes as well as bright colours was far from a winner for my inexperienced whisky mind who relied much more on traditional-looking labels. I came across several of their bottles during tasting sessions too and remember enjoying them but bizarrely, they never ended up on my "to-buy" list. However, my journey of whisky discovery continued to progress as the months went by and you progressively start to look beyond preconceived ideas, beyond well-known brand and traditional packaging. And when you start looking more into Bruichladdich, you realise what they are trying to achieve with they products, what their wider ideas are and what the main drive behind the company is. And this drive is the idea of "terroir". If you ever buy or look at one of their bottles, you will see their "terroir" pledge; "We believe terroir matters". Terroir is a French word which refers to the local soil and is used to describe the characteristic taste and flavour imparted by the environment in which food and drinks are produced. "Authenticity, Provenance and Traceability" as stated on the bottle. This means that Bruichladdich's main focus is on Islay and what Islay (soil and people) has to offer in terms of flavour and authenticity. They go even further by writing on the bottle the name of the farms which grew the barley used for this whisky. The 2007 edition came from Rockside farm, the 2009 from Claggan, Cruach, Island and Mulindry farms. Furthermore, they tend to bottle their whisky at 50% minimum, un-chill filtered and natural colour to keep this terroir fully present in each bottle. Sounds good enough to convince me to get hold of a bottle and open it, and here it is:

The colour, as you can see, is a pale gold, it is of course natural colour, un-chill filtered and bottled at 50%. The whisky is quite young as it was distilled in 2009 and my was bottled in November 2015, so it is about 6 years old.

Nose: The nose is quite crisp and fruity, some fresh grapes, exotic fruit (pineapple), some acidity and salt too, fresh linen, it reminds me a lot of their new-make spirit I got to try during the tour at the distillery. 

Palate: Straight away I get a wave of barley sweetness, it is fresh and fruity again with some vanilla notes, grassy, herby, salty and a hint of nuttiness. Once again, I am really getting the link with the new-make spirit.

Finish: the finish is delicious and rather long. It is a mix of sweetness from fresh barley, grapefruit and ginger bitterness, grassy, coastal with hints of fading peat. Amazing in my mind!

With water: the nose becomes sweeter, less acidic and more coastal, the palate oilier and sweeter too, and the finish is still rather sharp. It reminds me a bit of the finish you get after a Gin and Tonic. You still have the barley sweeter lingering in your mouth for a while. 

Wonderful dram, young of course, but I think that's part of the reason why it is so good, as well as the good old idea of terroir and it's application to the Bruichladdich way to "craft" their whisky (I'd better stop using this word as I am probably starting to sound like one of the brand ambassadors!). I should really get hold of some Port Charlotte to see what the peaty version is like and I cannot wait to get back into some more Octomore. I'll keep an eye out for a potential Bruichladdich tasting in Manchester in December...

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