Jon Bertelsen is the name of the importer of Bruichladdich whiskies in Norway, and due to some rigid use of rules (and no brains) Norway ended up with a very speical bottling of Bruichladdich that nobody else is getting.
The short story is that since the off-sales of alcohol is in the hands of the state-monopoly Vinmonopolet, any changes to a product must be apporved of if they are to retain their original listing in the basic list (items all shops are obliged to have on their shelves). This was no problem when the 10yo changed into the 12yo and neither was it a problem when Macallan wanted to pull the Sherry Oak out of Norway and replace it with the Fine Oak-series. But when Mr. Bertelsen wanted to put on of the new multi-vintage Mood-malts (Rocks, Waves or Peat) they said no. Why is anybody’s guess, but Mr. Bertelsen doesn’t give up easily. After a couple of calls and some negotiations he was promised a very special bottling that also would be accepted by Vinmonopolet as a suitable replacement for the Bruichladdich 12yo.
So what did we get? Bruichladdich Limited Edition 2001 Exclusively Bottled for Jon Bertelsen, a world premiere. This is the first ever official release of pure post-2001 (when the distillery started up again) Bruichladdich whisky (yes, I know Port Charlotte has been released, but that’s Port Charlotte spirit, not Bruichladdich – same distillery, different make). The only thing scarring the moment is that a cask of post-2001 Bruichladdich was bottled and sold in California. But that cask wasn’t pure Bruichladdich, as it was ACE’d [sic] in an ex-Zinfandel wine cask. The Norwegian edition is 100% ex-bourbon.
The whisky, not numbered, arrived in Norway on the 11th August (after being stuck in customs for a bit) and have started to permeate onto to the shelves this week, with some store being sold out only hours after getting a shipment. It’s bottled at 46% abv, non chill filtered and without colour, as is the standard for Bruichladdich. The price is the same as the last bottles of Bruichladdich 12yo, 499 NOK (£49.50 / €62.50).
Nose: Fresh with quite a lot of peat for a Bruichladdich. The alcohol covers up a lot of aromas, but with persistance the glass reveals dark lemonpeel, chocolate, coco (Bounty-bars?), baked bananas, dry wood, nutmeg and of course quite a lot of peat. If this is a true representative of the post-2001 Bruichladdich-style, great things will come. Very nice and with a complex array of aromas that promises good things for the palate.
Palate: As soon as the whisky hits the palate it starts releases a multitude of flavours. If I where to guess I’d say it was close to cask strength (or at least around 50% abv), not the 46% abv given on the label. A very crips and clean, with a peppery and liquorice-like aftertaste. The peat has almost vanished, but is present throughout, in the back somewhere. Light flavours of spiced fruits linger as one sits and contemplate future bottlings from Laddie.
Nose: The peat vanished somewhat with water, and lets the liquorice come forth. A mix of stale pepper and gooseberries lie hidden in the folds the aroma, while the gently peaty aromas re-enter the stage once more.
Palate: Dry, with a spicy, lemony hint of peat. Fresher in style, but lacking in elegance compared to the taste before water was added.
Conclusion: A very nice malt from the “Progressive Hebridean Distiller” (yep, that’s what they call themselves now). A bit on the young sind, but it stands firmly on it’s own feet. Definitely to be drunk without water (just two or three drops if you must). For some strange reason the flavours tend to last quite a long time, but even so the glass empties quite quickly. A moreish kind of whisky – me like. 86 points.