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Saturday, 10 May 2014

Bruichladdich Black Art 3 Whisky Review - My First!

An odd choice for my first review, I know, given the name of my blog, but it's what I'm drinking at the moment, and it is an excellent dram with not too many reviews out there. Also I'm going to trial an out-of-5 scoring system, rather than the usual 100 points.

It certainly is mysterious like it's name implies, it seems to change shape a little each time I try it! There seems to be some variation in the bottlings as well, perhaps different batches? Some have a more reddish tinge and more spicy christmas cake flavours, others, like mine, are more dark copper with more fruit and pepper notes. Both are totally unique and are a departure from the norm, which knowing Bruichladdich and Mr. McEwan was definitely by design! And it worked, I think.

Bruichladdich Black Art 3, 1989, 22 years old, 48.7% cask strength, Islay. 

Non-peated, aged in American Bourbon casks, then aged & finished in a mystery number of mystery casks (definitely some fortified or dessert wine in there though), named according to the 'black art' of the whisky distiller/blender. Jim McEwan's (Bruichladdich head distiller, pictured below) ode to his craft & profession. 

(tasted neat)
Colour: Deep, solid copper. (note some bottlings seem to be more red amber)

Texture: Medium oily, viscous, very slow movement in the glass, lovely long legs.

Nose: Big, Ripe, juicy tropical fruit. Pear, guava, paw paw/papaya, some candied berries, some oak, pepper spice, slightly burnt toffee sweetness. Intriguing, you could nose this whisky for an hour. 

Palate: Juicy tropical fruit like the nose, initial berry & fruit sweetness, then pepper, some wine/tea tannins, some fortified or dessert wine, but much less than when I last tasted it. Might be starting to oxygenate in the bottle. No trace of sherry unlike most un-peated Bruichladdich's. Very smooth with little alcohol heat. (note the redder-hued bottlings have more christmas cake & spice, less pepper and fruit)

Finish: Fruit fades, a trace of berry sweetness, toffee syrup, then drying, wood spice, medium to long finish. 

Comments: Definitely in my top 5 un-peated whiskies, truly intriguing stuff. So different from most others, not even readily identifiable as Bruichladdich. Each time I taste this it is like I'm seeing (but tasting...) it from another angle, with different notes becoming more or less prominent. Becoming harder to find, and expensive, but worth it for a whisky of this quality, and age. Definitely worth getting your hands on. 

Score: 3.5 out of 5. 

I would love to try it with a little peat Jim, how about finishing in an ex-Port Charlotte cask for a few months next time? You know you want to!

-Score revised and lowered half of a point/star, after tasting (again) the other, redder batch the other day, that is the one to go for, if you can check the bottle before buying! The christmas cake & spices add an extra dimension which makes it even better. The redder version gets the 4 star score from me.