Round III of notes from a recent Bruichladdich tasting:
Right off the bat, let me mention that Black Art has perhaps the coolest packaging of any spirit I’ve come across. Granted, it’s not very traditional as far as Scotch goes, nor does it do much to show off the booze’s color, but in terms of creating a mystique…Bruichladdich nailed this one. But then again, I’ve got a soft spot for a dark, arcane aesthetic such as this so perhaps I’m too easily swayed. So, what’s inside this black bottled beauty? Whisky to be sure, but aged and finished in an obfuscated mélange of casks and barrels. Jim McEwan swears up and down he’s taking the secret recipe to his grave, but it’s safe to say the majority of time was spent in American Oak. Past that, I’m guessing there’s a good deal of Oloroso and Port wood here as well as some of those more esoteric wine casks Bruichladdich and Murray McDavid are so fond of. This mysterious malt definitely pushes the envelope, and while sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m glad to say in this case it works pretty damn well.
The Nose: A big, opulent red wine of a nose. Along with more of that sugar heavy Vin Santo, there were golden raisins, red berries, and baked stone fruit. At times this had a cheap Port or California fruit bomb red wine scent to it…but in a good way. A little nutty, spiced cookie dough and a touch of oak helped to round things out a bit.
The Palate: Viscous, carmelized entry with more fruity wine notes to start. These transition nicely into some baking spices, clove and cinnamon, and fresh gingerbread. A little bit of smoke emerges towards the end along with touch of brine and a growing tannic dusty-ness.
The Finish: Longish, with that touch of smoke and brine working well with the oaky dryness.
Thoughts: Wild stuff, and fairly wonderful as well. It’s definitely different and, like the Rum Cask, some of whisky gets lost in the finishing, but unlike the Rum Cask, there are more interesting flavors here to make up for that. The nose is really something and ends up being richer than the palate in the end, but they do work well together. If you like your whiskies exotic and winey, it’s hard to beat Black Art, definitely worth a try.
The third in Bruichladdich’s more heavily peated series carries the Gaelic subtitle of “Sin an Doigh Ileach,” which in English means “It’s the Islay way, and may it never change.” Definitely a fitting title to peaty, smokey whisky made by a distillery so fiercely proud of its Islay roots. This seven-year-old was aged in a combination of Bourbon and Sherry casks.
The Nose: As expected, great notes of rubbery, youthful peat, green wood smoke, and sea-water dampened socks tempered nicely with some caramel apple and stewed raisins. There’s a really nice mix of fruit and gaminess, the fruit is less bright than the PC6, more baked but still able to balance the brash peat.
The Palate: Lush, spicy-sweet nose with some cinnamon and sugared citrus rind playing against the young peat and ever emerging smoke. Though the ABV is similar to the PC6, the PC7 seems a bit more tempered and less attacking. It’s still strong stuff, but it seems like one more year in wood has taken a bit of the edge off.
The Finish: Long, peaty and smokey, with some carmelized notes continuing as well as a surprisingly clove-y dryness.
Thoughts: A great whisky. There’s definitely a lot of that youthful vigor, just like the PC6, but some of fruity notes have a bit more depth and maturity which help calm this one down a little. Compared to the PC6, I felt like this handled the high ABV a little better, but at the same time, I loved the attack of the younger one, the PC7 is perhaps a little less aggressive. It would be really hard to choose between the PC6 & PC7, they’re both excellent, worthy whiskies.
Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 7 (PC7), Islay