Last month we had the chance to participate in #LadieMP5, a live, global tasting event hosted by Adam Hannett, head distiller at Bruichladdich. If you are a fan of Bruichladdich (or single malt whisky for that matter), this is a fun opportunity to taste truly unique, single cask whisky from one of the most progressive distillers in Scotland. #LaddieMP5featured 3 heavily-peated Port Charlotte expressions. All 3 were pulled from a single cask, matured for 10 years and bottled at an ABV close to natural cask strength. So how was it? Here is our take on each expression:

Cask 1999 – Fresh Bourbon, 56.9% ABV
Nose: Bright vanilla, green barley, toasted caramel, a thin veil of peat
Palate: Brilliant texture, very fresh, peat is surprisingly subdued
Overall: A familiar one, similar to the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley but fresher and sweeter too. This is first-fill bourbon and it definitely shows. Oddly enough, the more water added, the smokier it becomes. Beautiful, timeless, I needn’t say more.

Cask 0013 – Bourbon/Bordeaux, 59.9% ABV
Nose: Really unique; musky, damp carpet with cinnamon candies and crem brûlée.
Palate: An explosion of flavor; dark cherries, over-ripened grapes, flumes of peat smoke
Overall: A complete but rather funky whisky experience (in a good way). Reminiscent of the newly released Port Charlotte 10 Year Old but with more power and purpose.

Cask 0005 – Virgin Oak, 63.5% ABV
Nose: Well here we go. Charred cedar dust over Texas barbecue. Enter if you dare! (we do)
Palate: Wow! Starts off rather lush but the spirit quickly dominates everything in its path. Heavily charred oak and flame.
Overall: Everything is burning, I’m on fire, we are all dead. I’m not sure I would buy a bottle but what an incredible whisky experience to be had. Is this what war tastes like? Probably the most fun I’ve had with a whisky in quite a while. .

Final Thoughts: We had an absolute blast with #LaddieMP5. Whisky tastings are always fun but this was on a completely different level. Each whisky was full-bodied, intense, and memorable in their own way. If I had to pick the favorite, I don’t know. It’s a tough call. The Bordeaux cask is likely the popular choice and I do love European oak. But the more I think about it, the more I lean toward the Fresh Bourbon cask.

When it comes to the bright, floral, sea-laden character of the classic Bruichladdich or Port Charlotte spirit, there is no substitute for American white oak. Now, that may sounds contradictory coming from someone who’s favorite whisky is the Black Art (heavy on European oak). For the purpose of this tasting, though, I appreciated the opportunity to experience something closer to Bruichladdich’s core lineup but in a single cask, higher ABV variant, which to me is more “pure” or “untouched” if you will. The other two were unquestionably more interesting but the Fresh Bourbon strikes a chord for the slightly obsessive, overly nerdy Bruichladdich enthusiast.

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