Bruichladdich (pronounced brook-laddie) is based on the island of Islay, which lies off the west coast of Scotland. Islay is the traditional home of the world's smoky whiskies but Bruichladdich's distillery style is in contrast to this , being quite light and fresh. It is one of Scotland's most innovative distilleries and one of very few that are independently owned in scotland. Since being taken over by a group of entrepreneurs in 2000, Bruichladdich has been very experimental with it's whisky production and release programme. They are known for maturing their whisky in non traditional wine and dessert wine casks. A number of whisky purists do not agree with this approach, but by experimenting Bruichladdich's aim is to try and introduce new people to whisky and this can only be a good thing. The purists believe that whisky should be matured in the traditional casks of bourbon, sherry and refill whisky. Bruichladdich's innovative range is extensive and they are always updating it with new releases.
Here they have gone back to basics and this 16 years old has been matured in bourbon casks. Some of these are made from fresh oak and the influence of this is evident in the nose - it is full of vanilla. On the palate, this is rich, creamy and feels full bodied in the mouth. The overpowering characteristic is vanilla but other fresh fruit (imagine crisp green pears and apples) and some warming spices (like nutmeg and cinnamon) come battling through. There is a slight woody bitterness present throughout. The finish is long and rich with the vanilla and spices prominent again. This whisky was enjoyable but was on the edge of having too much wood cask influence, for my own personal taste. It would be a good choice if you like big, creamy and full bodied whiskies. Chris, my work colleague, described it as 'like licking a piece of oak'. A bottle should cost between £40-45 and is a limited release, restricted to independent retailers only.