Bruichladdich Black Art & Octomores Tasted; New Cutty Sark 12 Year Old; Whisky and Cop 26

I finished writing this one on 30th October but have delayed posting till today as there was an embargo on mentioning the new Bruichladdich Black Art till now. Also, I thought this column would be all about Bruichladdich but a sample I was sent to coincide with the launch of Cutty Sark 12 has also turned up – and there‘s a sample of a new expression from The Cotswolds Distillery but that one will have to wait till next time.

So, Black Art 09.1 first. It‘s 44.1% vol. and is the oldest Black Art released to date, distilled in 1992.

Appearance: Rich amber, orange marmalade and dark copper highlights. Tears fairly slow; second wave more clingy and more widely spaced.

Nose: Quite fresh and airy at first despite its age. Other aromas take a bit of time to come through. Ripe fruit – some banana, coconut, dried vine fruits, soft oak and earth, candle wax; vanilla and other sweet spices. With water, not much change at first. Then soft candy (Dolly Mixtures); bit of demerara/barley sugar. Brioche; sweet fruit and spices; rich honey and apple; stewed tea and maybe a dash of rose petal. Quite a „dry“ nose – not as fruity as some at first – it takes a bit of time. I loved the nose of this one.

Palate: Medium mouth weight. Very mouth drying. Some banana bread and spices; oak; touch of honey and honeydew melon. Stewed tea note makes it on to the palate in tannin form.

Finish: Long; spritz and pepper on the tongue; banana, oak, vanilla and dried herbs.

This seriously glorious. It‘s unpeated spirit, for the UK domestic market only and just 12,00 bottles – in specialist stores from November. No indication of price in the release. Who cares – it‘s too good to miss.


Before we get on to the Octomores, let‘s look at Cutty Sark 12 Year Old, a new extension for the brand under the current owners and the first one for some time.

Appearance: Ripe, rich barley gold – almost old gold. Brass highlights. Tears a little clingy and fairly widely spaced.

Nose: Florals and spices at first; soft vanilla and oak; touch of Turkish Delight; baked honey and orchard fruits; apricot, some dried vine fruit and earthy notes. With water, honeyed notes more to the fore as well as sweet spices and a bit of leather.

Palate: Cereal sweetness from the barley and notes of barley sugar; dried apricot and vine fruit, honey, vanilla and some soft, sweet spices.

Finish: Medium length; sweet cereal and dried grass with a gust of dryness then back to grassy notes.

It‘s been a while since I tasted any Cutty Sark expressions to compare with this new one. It‘s really enjoyable on its own. I haven‘t tried it in a mixed drink or cocktail but I‘m sure they‘ll have recommendations for some. It‘s currently in a few duty free markets but in domestic markets from March 2022.

Bruichladdich Octomores are always an exciting launch. They may not all be to your taste but they‘re always a talking point. This is the 12 series and there were three to try. I won‘t cover them all here but will choose the one which I think is my favourite though I will nose and taste them again. The one I‘ve chosen here is Octomore 12.2 (57.3% abv). All are 5 years old but this one, for me, was more attractive on the nose and a delight on the palate.

Appearance: Rich yellow gold; brass and light tawny highlights.Tears oily and swift at first then slower, stickier and quite close together. Feels like a different cask profile from 12.1 and indeed it is (see below).

Nose: Sweaty wool sock being dried before a fire; smoky and peaty but not overwhelming; salty sea air; fresh; deeper than 12.1 – more fruit notes. With water, more fruit – grilled pineapple some vine fruit, melon, sweet vanilla (sponge cake with vanilla buttercream). Also a tiny hint of sulphur.

Palate: Smoky, astringent and quite mouth drying; plenty of wood char and tar in the throat and on palate. Citrus and spice. Mellower and richer with more sweetness than 12.1 or 12.3.

Finish: Long, tarry, char and dry with some saltiness.

Once the glass is empty aromas of honey, fruits and flowers linger. It‘s £140 a bottle or equivalent in other markets subject to local duties and taxes. Expensive but worth it. The spirit spent three and a half years in US oak ex-bourbon casks before absorbing the richness and sweetness from Sauternes casks for 18 months.

Before we finish, this is the week that Cop 26 starts here in Glasgow. The SWA has put out a release highlighting some of the achievements the Scotch Whisky industry has made in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, notably, Key data tracking the Scotch Whisky industry’s ambitious Sustainability Strategy has revealed the sector has cut greenhouse gas emissions by more than 50% since 2008.The latest data also details that almost 40% of all energy used by producers is obtained from non-fossil fuel sources, compared to 28% in 2018….In September the SWA became Scotland’s first trade association, and the UK’s first food and drink association, to be recognised as a Race to Zero partner.

The partnership, which was approved by the UN High Level Climate Action Champions, recognises the Scotch Whisky industry’s commitment to robust net zero criteria in line with globally halving emissions by 2030.As well as cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the industry has pledged to use water responsibly, ensure by 2025 all new packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable, and play an active role in the wider conservation and restoration of Scotland’s peatland.“

Our industry has worked really hard on these environmental matters. There was a warning this last week too, of how our whisky might get more expensive in future due to water shortages. An interesting one to watch. There are also a number of plans to increase the number of trees planted here in Scotland. A very good thing, if the right trees are chosen and if they are planted in the right places. Hardwood trees need a lot of water daily and can deplete a distillery‘s water source if planted near it. As with all things environmental, we need to live in balance and harmony.

Hoping you‘re living in balance and harmony yourselves. Till next time (mid-November), happy dramming.





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