Bruichladdich 10-, 15-, & 20-Year Single Malt Scotches
by Kevin R. Kosar

No doubt many readers have already heard about Bruichladdich, what with Malt Advocate magazine naming it distillery of the year in 2001. But for those not familiar with the story, here it is in a nut: Bruichladdich (pronounced brook-laddie, meaning shore bank) began making scotch in 1881. Until 1960, it made huge, peaty whiskies. Thereafter it switched to a making more subtle scotches. By 1994, though, the distillery was near death. Workers had been let go and no whisky was being made. In December of 2000 Gordon Wright, Mark Reynier, and Simon Coughlin of the bottler, Murray-McDavid, bought Bruichladdich (the Wright family, you might recall, runs Springbank distillery). On May 29, 2001, the first spirit of the reinvigorated distillery flowed.

Now, many folks are very excited (us included) that Jim McEwan, who made the whiskies at Bowmore for many years, took the helm

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at the reborn Bruichladdich. That means, obviously, that none of the scotches tasted here are strictly Jim's product. Somebody else distilled them and casked them. However, it was Jim who went into the barrel house and separated the superb from the less than superb, and co-mingled them to create these whiskies. And boy did he do a fine job.

The 10-year is finished in sherry and bourbon casks. It's a light bodied malt and noses of hazelnut, honey, raspberries, cinnamon, orange and apple. In the mouth it is easy, offering apple, cinnamon, oloroso, soft peat, and honey. Well done. (Rating ***3/4)

The mostly bourbon (and a little sherry) finished 15-year is a different animal. As my notes indicate, "in came iodine." It's a more robust whisky, with a dry banana and ginger nose and a scrumptious mouthfeel and notes of caramel, roast grain, peach and more. Gutsy and complex, and a great deal of fun. (Rating****1/4)

Last up for this review is Bruichladdich 20-year, which is finished only in bourbon. It's a thick dram and its own creature. One can take in oak, peat, cranberry, toffee, chocolate, and caramel, and it is remarkably soft and almost velvety. Delightful. (Rating ****1/2)

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Reviewed 1/5/02

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