Bruichladdich 2003 Laddie Crew Valinch 22

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One of the really exciting parts of visiting Bruichladdich distillery is their Valinch casks. A pair of rotating casks with some quite eclectic whiskies in them, and a tap, instead of a real valinch, so you don’t spill whisky all over yourself and spend the rest of the day walking around smelling like a drunk who fell into his pot of boot stew (from experience).

On my visit there I picked up a bottle of a really nice Port Charlotte matured in a Viognier cask. It lies in my cupboard awaiting colder weather. But I also managed to get hold of a sample of this beauty, which actually graced the stores after my visit and is already finished as far as I know. Part of a series of regular (unpeated) Bruichladdich where each cask is named for a distillery staff member. This one is named for Jessica Fletcher, retail assistant and tour guide, and was matured in a fresh port hogshead. I like port a whole bunch, more so than I dislike unpeated Bruichladdich (there’s a lactic caramel funk to their whisky that I only like with peat, but then I really like it) so I had to try this.

Aged 13 years. 59.5%ABV. Matured in a fresh port hogshead. No colourant added, non-chill filtered and bottled at cask strength from cask 544.

Nose: Wet leaves. Sawdust. Boiled sweets. Red fruits. Grapey notes, like a very fruity wine. Cacao. That characteristic lactic caramel note I always find in Bruichladdich showed up after some glass time, but it was tempered quite nicely by the all the port influence. Slightly herbal notes here as well, very subtle. Spearmint. Very subtle cinnamon and leather.

Palate: Dunnage warehouses. Brown sugar. Raspberry jelly on lamb. Cinnamon. Blood orange. Wine corks. Salty leather shows up with water.

Finish: Long. Cough syrup. Licorice. Kohlrabi. Bitter citrus peel. Empty wine casks. Fruit leather.

Would I buy this: Yes

Would I order this in a bar: Yes

Would I drink this if someone gave me a glass: Yes

VFM: N/A

This was a nice one. Loads of complexity and the lactic caramel funk was quite well hidden by everything else and I daresay even worked well with the port influence. One issue was I did feel a little queasy afterwards, like having enjoyed a little too much of a rich dessert. Perhaps a 40 ml dram was too much. With water it got less sweet and more dry, but the flavours stayed the same.

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