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24 Jan 2022 By

If You Only Buy One Whisky This Month…Buy These Two.

There are some series we always look forward to, and count on, to bring light into our tawdry lives: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Jo Nesbø’s Harry Hole detective novels, and the double delight from the Bruichladdich camp: Black Art and Octomore.

We usually encounter the two power Islay whiskies separately, but this time were privy to both through a live tasting session with the brand’s Head Distiller Adam Hannett.

Black Art 9.1_Lifestyle_1[ Read our previous post on Black Art here ]

Let’s start with the Black Art 09.1, a finite 1992 Vintage and is the oldest Black Art edition to be bottled; this 29-year-old whisky comes from an era before the closure of the Bruichladdich Distillery in 1994 and would patiently mature in warehouses by the shores of Loch Indaal.

“With this edition of Black Art, I took inspiration from the groundwork done in the early days of this series, where there was a relentless pursuit to layer flavour. This whisky would rest in some of the finest casks, sometimes for just a few weeks, adding a delicate layer of fruit before we moved the whisky on again,” says Hannett.

Bottled at 44.1% ABV, the Black Art 09.1 is an unpeated dervish, with swirling notes of smoky dried fruits, layers of coconut and chocolate, and oak and citrus that dance in your mouth.

Black Art 9.1_Lifestyle_1

The thing about the Black Art series is that its recipe (or blend, or magic sauce) is a secret, unlike whatever else Bruichladdich produces — a distillery famed for its transparency. While Black Art lacks a defining description unlike the Octomore (“peatiest whiskies ever”) or a profile that’s easy to categorise (“mostly sherry casks”), it makes up for its mystery because it is one of the best damn whiskies to drink.

So when I try to introduce it at a bar to friends, the convo goes like this:

Me: You should try this Black Art (series), so worth it, get a dram.

Friend: What’s it like?

Me: It’s good, really good, just get a dram.

Friend: Yes, but what does it taste like?

Me: Just trust me on this. It’s a whisky you gotta drink. And one day, you’re gonna have this same conversation with another sceptic.

It’s about trust. Adam Hannett is asking us to trust him and, to be fair, the Black Art series has never disappointed (disclaimer: we’ve only tasted it from series 4 onwards) and remains a mystery. Righteously so.

So now I’m also asking you to trust me: just get a dram.

A bottle of the Black Art 09.1 costs S$720.

Octomore 12 Series_Lifestyle_2

The Octomore needs less introduction: it is heaaaaavily peated, five years old and bottled as cask strength.

Octomore 12.1 ($260) 59.9% ABV

130.8 PPM

Five years in ex-American oak casks

Despite its 130.8 ppm, this is not aggressive at all. It is balanced, elegant, and you might even say friendly.

Octomore 12.2 (S$300) 57.3% ABV

129.7 PPM

Three and a half years in ex-American oak casks and finished 18 months in Sauternes wine cask

The .2 is usually a travel retail special (that we couldn’t get more 8.2 still haunts us) but is now available outside. It is rather peaty, but you’re not getting hit by an ambulance — it’s not that aggressive. 12.2 has lovely notes of lemon, vanilla, caramel, ripe fruits and apricots.

Octomore 12.3 whisky

Octomore 12.3 (S$365) 62.1% ABV

118.1 PPM

75 per cent was filled into ex-American oak casks and 25 per cent into Pedro Ximenez solera casks

It’s the first time this series has sherry maturation. That, combined with the distiller’s home-grown grain, makes this my favourite of the lot. It is earthy, smoky with notes of orange blossom, leather, boot polish and the howl of wolves.

Fun Fact! Octomore only makes up 5% of Bruichladdich’s production.

The four expressions are available online on Rémy Cointreau’s LazMall, Shopee and Amazon. Whisky enthusiasts who would like to sample the new releases by the dram can visit VAULT50 (50A Princep Street) to buy the set (bundle price of S$1,428) or try the whisky flight featuring the Bruichladdich Black Art 09.1 and the trio from Octomore 12 series for S$80++ >> from now to 31 January 2022.

In case you miss out during January, fans of the Bruichladdich Distillery would still be able to visit The Single Cask, Cooperage, Malts, Meatsmith, 1 Penny Black and Shanghai Vault to sample the expressions or buy the bottles.

Like this? We Visited Bruichladdich!

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