N: That is a wonderful combo of all the best things about, well, many softer, floral malts from all across the board. Divine, grassy, estery, honeyed, fudgy malt with a touch of Lowlands magic in the yeasty, bovril/meaty department. Theres a fair amount of pollen here too, from shrubs and trees more than low lying ornamentals and shades of soft, sweet lemon, orange and lime citrus as well as apricot and cheddar with ginger, but its the balance and delivered pace of honeyed malt and soft fruity wood oils that impress me enough to score this higher than the occasional Port Ellen or Brora. Its not perfect though, theres a chalky cardboard note that will continue to the finish but its a whisky that rewards intrepid souls.
T: A touch watery, honeyed, grassy arrival, then immediately salty, then sugary with a fresh watery, honeyed, grassy, waxy delivery before the pepper spice and water cress develops. More sugars turn slightly sour [cream], ever grassy and still a tad waxy before the malt seeps through. The pepper and fresh watercress continues but always in a controlled way allowing the malt some breathing space. Its an unusual mouthful, a lot different to the nose and different from most malts. Although light in style, it covers the whole palate. Its the balance between sweet and sour which is so endearing with a fascinating symbiotic relationship between spirit and cask this one creating a sweet/sour, fresh, saline, peppery, oaky/oily/waxy, bitter lemon maltiness which is varied but steady. Salty, cocoa malt heralds a shift…
F: ….reaching an oily/waxy, sour, salty, malty cul-de-sac pause before setting off again. It becomes salivating once more, showing a touch of bourbon, mint-chocolate woody freshness, lemon seeds,… constantly salivating. Light malty, chalky, saline water concludes with those lemon seeds, vanillas and a light hot chocolate that endures. Long development, long finish.
C: This is going to be a real challenge for some. Malts like these don’t compete on the same levels compared to more brazen and more apparent malts but it doesnt mean this Bladnoch bottling isn’t perfect in its own way. Who is to say a Hawk Moth isn’t just as brilliant as a Golden Eagle. Top Trumps aren’t always won by the biggest guns. This is a subtlety challenging whisky for a palate used to upfront, bold flavours against pastel shades. Its easy to like the big, bold, abv brash, bottle bruisers and its even easier to miss the subtle gems. The nose is one that will keep you guessing. The palate is feed with constant interest with a subtle but salivating finish that tops off a special bottling. Where it loses marks is in its relatively weak arrival where 46% or more could have really boosted its flavour profile. This bottle took a few months before the whisky began to reveal its full wonderment. Just as some whiskies deteriorate quickly once opened, others improve. i was in no rush to finish this bottle. One of the best in the Flora and Fauna range and a cracking Lowlands, period.
Scores a B+