I might have said in Tuesday’s post that the Islay Whisky Festival wasn’t all about the whisky but that doesn’t mean that I didn’t taste some cracking drams. Each year, the eight distilleries on Islay release a special edition whisky which can only be bought on the island…well, most of them (I’m looking at you Ardbeg). I tasted a good few of them whilst on the island and I’d say that the stand-out was Bruichladdich High Noon.
High Noon was launched at the distillery’s open day, with 1,881 bottles produced to mark the distillery’s establishment in 1881. The bottling is part of the now infamous Black Arts series, whose name originates from the fact that no-one knows what goes into the bottling apart from master distiller Jim McEwan. His upcoming retirement will likely mean that this is his final Festival Bottling but he’s definitely gone out on a high.
The matt, black bottle design is striking – unlike anything produced by any other Scottish distillery – and the druid-like symbols on the bottle only add to its mystique. The liquid inside it just what you would expect – a clean, smokey whisky, with lots of fruity flavours. The nose has that clean smoke smell, but it sits alongside sweeter, buttery flavours including caramel and toffee. The smoke is there on the palate, but it’s not overpowering, allowing citrusy lemon and maritime sea salt to come though. It coats the month, giving a long finish, with a subtle hint of spice.
A great addition to the Bruichladdich range and a worthy festival bottling for Jim McEwan’s swansong. Don’t worry if you weren’t at the Festival though – no good’uns have smuggled some bottles back to the mainland. You’ll pay a pretty price for them though. Oh, and some witches must have been casting dark spells during bottling, as the bottles seem to have shrunk from 70cl to 50cl – a trick being played by a few too many distilleries these days.