So, Ardbeg has a contender for my heart when it comes to one of my very favourite things, single malt whisky. Not that their fucking outstanding Uigeadail has been toppled from it's podium (yet), but, over the past couple of months I've encountered a few whiskys from another Islay distillery, the fiercely untraditional Bruichladdich, and they've been consistently fantastic and most definitely worthy of yr close attention. The first one was Waves, which was salty, fruity and smoky with just a touch of seaweedy iodine and spice to lift it, shot through with just enough of that madeira cask sweetness, complex and long lasting and rather fucking lovely.
Next up was Rocks, which is, unusually for a single malt, finished in shiraz casks. It's also unpeated, unlike Waves, and the months in those red wine casks have imparted a beautiful ruddy hue to it which follows through to the nose. Fuck me this stuff smells good. Fresh raspberries and barley sugar with a slight note of the sea which all carry on into yr gob, first as the background to a torrent of malt and vanilla then coming through like a disco string section, filling yr mouth with spiced summer pudding and cream, outrageously smooth and never cloying thanks to that hint of coastal saltiness. I quite liked this, as you may have gathered, and compared to the considerably pricier Isle Of Jura 16yo Diurach's Own* we'd been drinking earlier it was on another fucking level in terms of depth, complexity and sheer deliciousness. It instantly became one of my favourite whiskys and further samplings have done nothing but reinforce my opinion. Fucking fabulous whisky, and for under thirty quid a bottle, insanely good value.
You may have noticed I haven't given ages for the first two whiskys. That's because Bruichladdich aren't averse to mixing identical recipe whiskys of different ages to create the desired expression. None of the malts in Waves or Rocks are more than 8yo as far as I'm aware, but you'd never know it from tasting either of these two excellent whiskys. At the moment, I'm enjoying a glass of The Laddie Ten, which, unsurprisingly, has been aged for ten years in American oak and is proving to be a rather fine, more complex and citrusy drop than the Waves or the Rocks and which I shall tell you about next time. For now I'm just going to savour it.
*Which was delicious, but somehow anonymous, Elixir is a superior (and cheaper) expression of Jura's strengths for me. And what's with the caramel Jura add for colour? I like my whisky to be the colour it comes out the cask. I know, fussy fucker.