Bruichladdich Distillery Island of Islay Scotland Whisky from 200 euros and over

Bruichladdich Black Art 1990 04.1

Review of the fourth edition of the Mysterious whisky from Bruichladdich.

Origin: Isle of Islay (Scotland)
Type: Single Malt Scotch Whisky
Gradation: 49.2%ABV
Ageing casks: N/A
Chillfiltered: No
Added coloring: No
Owner: Bruichladdich (Rèmy Cointreau)
Average price: € 280.00
Official website: www.bruichladdich.com
Vote: 87/100

The guys at Bruichladdich, as we know, like to experiment a lot with casks and barley, producing several series of bottlings that have, among their various characteristics, total transparency on the composition of the casks used, down to the smallest detail.
But every now and then it’s also nice to play with enthusiasts, letting only taste and not information guide their approach to their whiskies, and so here is the Black Art series.
Born from the mind (and passion) of the then Master Distiller Jim McEwan, Black Art represents an anomaly in their production, what could certainly be described as a divertissement which, since 2009, has been released semiannually and with increasing age.
The first Black Art came from a 1989 distillate (therefore aged 19 years), while the latest edition released at the time of writing (08.1 of 2020) comes from a 1994 distillation (when the distillery was closed by the then owners) with 26 years of ageing.

Here I am with the last bottling created by McEwan, having been succeeded by Adam Hannett as of 05.1 of 2015, thus with no indication of the ageing barrels used (American and European oak), filled in 1990 and bottled in November 2013 after twenty-three years.
A beautiful evocative video can be found here.

Tasting notes

Copper in the glass.
Warm and spicy on the nose, with soft red fruits (raspberries, wild strawberries) combined with melon, red apple, maple syrup, toffee and butter biscuits, dusted with cinnamon and nutmeg. On the length, a waxy note appears accompanied by a hint of leather. Mellifluous.
Creamy and persuasive on the palate, a slight hint of pepper reminds us that, despite the low alcohol content, we are dealing with a cask strength whisky, with the spices lighting up on baked apple, shortcrust pastry, red fruits, liquorice and caramelised sugar. Intense and full-bodied, it insinuates impressions of toasted almonds, gingerbread, leather and dark chocolate with a hint of salt.
The finish is long and spicy, quite dry and salty, with red fruits, apple, liquorice, almonds.

I was perhaps expecting more, but the fact that it’s ‘only’ a solid, rich whisky is a tribute to the very high quality to which Bruichladdich has accustomed us. And the bottle design alone would be worth the purchase, if only it had a slightly less elitist price tag.

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