Bruichladdich 1998 Manzanilla

Manzanilla in Spanish means “old bathtub”. Well, maybe not exactly. Literally it means “little apple”. It’s a dry style of Fino Sherry from Sanlúcar de Barrameda. A few oak butts used for aging this wine were acquired by Bruichladdich distillery and in 1998 filled with new spirit and laid in a warehouse. Ten years later, sitting in an outrageously comfy leather chair in Hotel Du Vin’s whisky snug, looking deep into Chris’s blue eyes I did not yet know, that what was about to happen would change my life forever.

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‘And from Scotland we’ll take Bruichladdich Manzanilla, looks interesting,’ he said with the facial expression that could only mean that he did not have a faintest clue what Manzanilla was.
‘Are you sure about this, Chris?’ said Martin, the bar manager.
‘Yup, why wouldn’t I be?’ Instead of answering the question Martin just opened the bottle and gave us a sniff. I recall thinking it smelled of walnuts. How strange when I think about it now.

The official distillery taste descriptors are: Honey, chamomile, macademia nut, pear, lemon and green apple. And here is what I think:

Nose: Play-Doh, egg sandwich, moss, salt and unmistakably sulphur. When I got through that I uncovered sugar syrup. I don’t have a good sensory memory, I find it hard sometimes to recall what things smell or taste like. I usually just remember if I liked them or not. But the smell of this whisky is stuck with me. My brain can picture it perfectly, in details. You call it trauma.

Palate: By a long shot the weirdest whisky I have tried. It’s remarkably oily and so salty and tingly you would not believe it. It doesn’t taste like Scotch whisky which, I’m sure, blind tastings will confirm. Can’t write more here because I swallowed it almost instantly.

Finish: This is where some good things happen, so let’s focus. There is a fair bit of Islay character to be found seconds after swallowing this Laddich. Saltiness is not offensive any more and a subtle peaty note appears. Dies sweet and almost pleasant but nevertheless I am happy it’s gone.

Overall: Not good, I’m sorry. I am a friend of all whiskies and I respect Bruichladdich distillery for their modern, experimental and uncompromised approach to whisky making and marketing, but what they have done here does not appeal to me. I am hurt and I bleed.

For this Battle of Nations Chris could have chosen something known to be good to represent Scotland. The Macallan 18 yo or Ardbeg Ten would have destroyed the opposition even if we were to taste them by licking them of the table (which I have done before and no, I am not proud of it). But this was all about drinking stuff we had not had before and Chris did his best to make the right choice. Having said that, I still want in when you’ll be stoning him. Cheers.

Chris: I agree with your tasting notes, but I think I have done you a favour by choosing this horrendous whisky. Firstly: It gave you some good material to write about. Secondly: You will never have to taste it again and you know what to avoid (Unless Bruichladdich decide to send us a free bottle for such a glowing post, unlikely) Thirdly: At least it wasn’t average, and you will never forget it.

Some advice, If the memories of the Manzanilla monster continue to re-occur, go and see your GP. I did, he gave me some pills which help me sleep better and stop me having the nightmares about the nose.

We will be trying some other Bruichladdichs soon, because there are some excellent ones out there. This was just the wrong one. Cheers

Bruichladdich Manzanilla, 1998, 10 yo, 46% ABV, un-chillfiltered

Available from: thewhiskyexchange.com – £37.99

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World Whiskies Awards Judge         Spirit of Speyside Whisky Awards Judge Global Scotch Masters Judge         Scottish Whisky Awards Judge