Earlier I reviewed the most recent, standard range, Bruichladdich from the Dumpy OB era: the Scottish Barley bottling. Today we’ll have a look at the one that started it all for the previous owners. A short recap is in order I guess. In 1994 Bruichladdich was closed (again) since not a lot of Malt Whisky was needed back then. In 2000 Bruichladdich was taken over by a group of people fronted by Mark Reinier (of Murray McDavid), who in turn, asked Jim McEwan to take on the post of master distiller and (progressive) production director. Who would have thought Jim to ever leave the Bowmore building. In 2001 Bruichladdich was reassembled, without making it a computer driven modern distillery and without disturbing the Victorian bits as well. If memory serves me correctly, by 2001, three bottles were released as some sort of core range. A 10yo (this one), a 15yo and a 20yo. So this 2003 bottling, is one of the next batches after that. Yes no NAS bottles back then yet!
Color: Light gold.
Nose: Light, sweet barley. Extremely dusty. Paper. Dishwater citrus, but also perfumy wood, otherwise not a lot of wood noticeable. Pretty fruity. Thick sugared yellow fruits. Some pineapple and papaya with a slight hint of mint and cardboard. Somehow it smells sugary with hints of toffee and caramel. No peat.
Taste: Paper and a sweet woody note. Also something metallic. Perfumy too. It tastes almost the same as it smells. A bit hot on entry, but quickly dissipating the heat. Citrus fresh, but not of the dishwater kind. Rhubarb and again some caramel, which moves into toffee towards the finish. Hints of mocha and wood. Some woody bitterness helps the Whisky along. To my amazement, the dishwater component returns.
The current entry-level Bruichladdich is the NAS Scottish Barley and as luck would have it, I still have that one here too! The Scottish Barley has a lot of butter on the nose, but the fruit reminds me of the 10yo (but only the fruit). Definitely a younger Whisky. More raw and closer to new make spirit. It even has a tiny amount of smoke (and a wee bit of peat and oil, since it resembles Springbank a bit), which is nice. Tastewise the NAS is even simpler than the 10yo, more on barley and lacks some of the off notes of the 10yo.
I was never a fan of the 10yo, and after more than ten years, I still don’t like it that much. The Scottish Barley however, reminds me of Springbank, and even though it is simpler, less complex, in this case I prefer the NAS over the 10yo. (The “Yellow Submarine” I had next, was definitely better than both)