Bruichladdich 8 yo 2010/2019 ‘Bere Barley’ (50%, OB, ex-bourbon American oak)
Distilled entirely from a 2009 batch of Bere barley grown on Orkney. Bere is an ancient, six-row varietal of barley that has been cultivated in Scotland since at least the 8th century. It’s notoriously difficult to work with in distilleries compared to more contemporary varietals, generally leading to porridge-like mashes and far lower yields. However, results at Arran and Bruichladdich so far suggest it makes a pretty characterful whisky... Colour: straw. Nose: quite a profound divergence from the previous two. This is going up another level again in terms of texture and fattiness. There’s also more green fruits - gooseberry, apple, green banana - and more sweetness in the form of honey and golden syrup. Wee touches of camphor, mint tea, eucalyptus, hessian, dusty malt bins and yellow flowers. I really love this profile - big, generous, complex and sinewy. With water: oily, sooty, esters, citrus pith, lightly carbolic, sheep wool, earth and increasingly coastal with things like sandalwood and seashells. Mouth: that’s the thing about Bere - it’s just so different. There are aspects here which nod towards world whiskies such as this really punchy, bready spiciness like pumpernickel. But there’s other aspects too. Coal dust, hessian, olive oil, grass, nutmeg, lime pith, waxed canvas and various scattered mineral qualities. I find it both highly entertaining and pleasurable. With water: pah! Superb complexity. Oily, estery fruits, autolytic, spicy, camphor and farmhouse cider with some more canvas, gorse and saline minerals. Finish: long, lemony, salty, slightly waxy and mineral. Comments: Who was it that said barley varieties don’t make a difference...?
SGP: 662 - 90 points!