I like Bruichladdich Distillery, not only for their excellent drams, but also for the way they get their message across the globe. They are masters in PR. At the annual Edinburgh festival Royal Miles Whiskies held a whisky tasting, already for several years now. Bruichladdich has won several times but not this year. Are they worried? no they aren't! They turned their 6th place into a victory by claiming they have beaten some 40 year old whiskies with their 3yr old X4+3 expression, which is quite an achievement for such a young whisky, it can hardly stand on its own feet. To celebrate this and to promote the limited bottling of this very special and very young whisky, there are only 15.00 numbered bottles bottled at 63.5% ABV, Mark Reynier sent out the following press release:
A controversial 3 year old single malt whisky inspired by a 1695 account of 'perilous whisky', deemed irresponsible by the Scotch Whisky Association and feted in song by bards has been rated better than some 40 year old single malts. Specialist whisky retailer Royal Mile Whiskies organised a tasting of 126 whiskies during the Edinburgh Festival where customers voted on their preference. It was in 1695 when Martin Martin, explorer of the west of Scotland, wrote in his diary: "Their plenty of corn was such, as disposed the natives to brew several sorts of liquors, as common usquebaugh, another called trestarig, three times distilled, which is strong and hot; a third sort is four times distilled, and this by the natives is called usquebaugh-baul, which at first taste affects all the members of the body: two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life." I haven't found a health warning on the bottle so I assume it's safe to drink, I guess taste has changed dramatically over the years. Continue reading...
Back to the festival tasting. Bruichladdich X4+3, the experimental Bruichladdich dram, quadruple distilled single malt came 6th ahead of drams up to 13 times its age. Earlier this year Bruichladdich X4+3 was infamously referred to as "not cooking oil. Not diesel oil. Sewing machine oil" by whisky guru Charlie McLean in a piece of self-confessed Burns' Day mischief-making by Times hacks. The BBC's James May and Oz Clarke, acknowledging the extraordinary purity of the 4 times distillation, managed to power a sports car at speeds in excess of 100 mph using 'straight-off-the-still' X4, at an eye-watering 90% ABV. James May referred to the youthful three year old version of X4 in his TV series Drink to Britain as his 'nirvana dram'.
French drinks giant Pernod Ricard recently launched a campaign, 'Age Matters', to reinforce the relevance of the age statement for single malt whisky which is being questioned by a new wave of smaller distillers. Bruichladdich MD, Mark Reynier, said about the X4+3: "the '+3' refers to its age in cask; yes its young, yes its high strength, yes its controversial. We were just fascinated by the 1695 reference to usquebaugh-baul, the Gaelic for perilous whisky, that we had to give it a shot." "Of course this is a work in progress. We are maturing part of the X4 in brand new oak casks where its astounding purity and strength is drawing out flavours never experienced before in a Scotch whisky." "It's very exciting; it shows you just what can be achieved with exceptional raw ingredients, a bit of distilling skill and whole leap of imagination. This result proves if you take your time to do it right you don't need half a century to pass on by."
You will be pleased to know though that it was another Islay Distillery that won the Royal Miles Whisky tasting, a Bunnahabhain 25 Year Old Single Islay Malt. Congratulations!