There’s a great appeal to acquiring a birth year whisky. Drinking something that was distilled the same year you were born and which has matured and grown in the same period of time as you have is quite an experience – history, provenance and romance is why we’re addicted to whisky after all.
We regularly get the birth year request, but we regularly have to greet requests for years from the early-to-mid ‘80s with forlorn faces. The early ‘80s saw the last great crash in the Scotch industry and so when expressions from that period emerge, what a rare treat it is.
Enter Bruichladdich. Today the Islay distillery considers themselves one of Scotland’s most progressive distilleries, but they are also steeped in history. Originally built in 1881 the distillery had been through a number of owners before it began a resurrection under Murray McDavid in 2000 and landed in the portfolio of drinks giant Remy Cointreau in 2012.
Since 2000 fans of this cult distillery have been spoilt with a plethora of expressions that have showcased the many faces of their whisky (few collectors have been able to keep up). Wood finishes, vintages, distilling tricks – we’ve seen and tried it all. Now with the Rare Cask Series Bruichladdich will be closing a chapter of their history, utilising some of the very last casks from a historic period of production.
The Bruichladdich Rare Cask Series comprises of three expressions described as “the last of their kind”. The peak of those dire ‘80s years was 1983, which saw many distilleries close – those which survived were certainly reducing their production. Bruichladdich, then under the ownership of Invergordon Distillers, itself endured a temporary closure in ’83. The resulting years in the ‘80s we ones of guarded optimism, but stocks from the early-to-middle years of that ‘whisky loch’ decade are certainly not plentiful – as birth year hunters will attest. The Rare Cask Series has vintages from 1984, 1985 and 1986.
Head Distiller Adam Hannett describes, “These rare, old single malts are a direct link to our past, to the men who made truly special spirit here while facing very different circumstances to those which we enjoy today. Testament to their skill and hard work it was laid down to mature by the shores of Loch Indaal, unaware of what the future might bring.
“Three generations of distillers have watched over it, each of us helping to shape the final concept. It has been my privilege to decide that the treasures we have nurtured are now ready to be brought to the world.
“These whiskies when tasted leave me speechless. They are in their prime, the last of their kind and can never be repeated, never recreated. Nothing quite like them will ever be seen again.”
Although in modern times Bruichladdich have run peated malt through their stills (released officially under the Port Charlotte and Octomore brands) they exclusively distilled unpeated malt between 1962 and 1994. Unpeated stock remains their primary output.
The Rare Cask bottlings are available in very limited quantities and when they’re gone, they’re gone.