The Classic Laddie is the introductory expression to Bruichladdich’s core range of Single Malt Scotch whiskies. It is the foundation, if you will, to one of the most exciting distilleries on Islay and perhaps the most progressive in the world. I have to admit that upon my first tasting of their core expressions, I was a bit confused. It was early into my whisky journey but even then it was unlike anything I had before. I wasn’t sure that I liked it. It was not until I came to understand Bruichladdich’s history and purpose and for my palate to further evolve before I came to fully enjoy their whisky like I do today.
To start, all of their whisky is naturally colored and non-chill filtered. In speaking with the head distiller Adam Hannet, it became immediately clear that to them there is simply no other way. While some believe that customers value or even demand product consistency for a brand to survive, Adam argues that what the customers really want is an exciting whisky in its truest form.
Bruichladdich also places a big emphasis on terroir. Supporting the local community and the people of Islay is fundamental to the distillery’s existence. They regularly produce expressions distilled from barley grown on the island. Doing this is not easy and it’s not cheap but the end result is well worth it. Interestingly, their entire distillery is run the traditional way; by hand. That means there are no computers on site at the distillery.
So onto the Classic Laddie with its opaque, turquoise bottle and questionable contents. When we think of Islay whisky we think of the intense, rich flavors of saltwater and peat smoke. This is none of those things. It is a light, floral and unpeated whisky bottled at 50% ABV (impressive for a bottle at this price point). It is pale gold in color and incredibly viscous. We have come to really enjoy our whisky this way and it’s nice to see the oil cling to the glass like a newborn to the warmth of its mother. The nose is fresh and clean with a hint of salt from the Islay breeze. While no peat was smoked to dry the barley used in this whisky, the typically peat aromas are still detectable but only slightly. This is no surprise when you consider the entire island is covered in peat and the water flows through it all the same.
On the palate, a burst of sea salt and pepper and a beautiful, dry oak flavor coats the mouth entirely. Wow! Forgot how strong this one is. Opening it up with a bit of water releases more of the floral notes and introduces a bit of honey and freshly cut grass. The finish is quite long but really beautiful. Almost thirst-quenching. Just when you think it is about to end, it perseveres. All-in-all, an excellent dram. One of the best whiskies you can buy for the money really.