Bruichladdich 1988/30 Rare Cask Series

Bruichladdich 1988 30 Header

As you might’ve gathered from my social media feeds, I frequently host tastings (alongside The Drinks Lady) for all sorts of groups – private, corporate, charity, student society, wedding, conference etc – and one of my favourite themes to discuss with smaller groups is ‘Time Travel’. This tasting essentially involves sourcing five bottles of whisky, each distilled in the five decades from the 1960s through to the 2000s, and exploring the ups and downs of the industry over that time. Everything’s good fun for the first couple of drams, but once you get to the 1980s, things take a dark turn.

No less than 20 distilleries closed in that decade as a result of overproduction in the 1960s and 1970s leading to the infamous ‘whisky loch’. Some reopened, many never produced spirit again. Countless other distilleries greatly reduced production, with others only distilling a few months of the year. Being a 1987 vintage myself, it’s desperately hard work trying to find whisky from my birth year, so tasting anything which was distilled between 1983 (in my opinion, the darkest of all the years in the 80s) and 1989 is a real pleasure, and a snapshot from extremely tough times.

With that in mind, I’m delighted to be sampling the latest addition to Bruichladdich’s Rare Cask Series, a 1988 vintage bottled at 30 years old. This whisky has been matured in a combination of refill bourbon barrels and hogsheads, bottled at a natural cask strength of 46.2%, and limited to 6,000 bottles. Commenting on the release, master distiller Adam Hannett said: ““The 1988 is a stunning example of how well Bruichladdich ages. It is a delicate, fruity spirit, with a tremendous floral edge, all underpinned by a subtle oak presence.”

Bruichladdich 1988 30yo
Rare Cask Series
6,000 bottles
46.2% ABV
£750 RRP

Nose: Really quite floral, and slightly perfumed to start with. Then cooked pineapple, sweet lemon, root ginger, and lime oils, with a touch of melon and mango. Some cooked peach and apricot too. It’s really quite lively for a 30 year old. Underneath there’s salted pretzels, muesli, and honey on porridge.

Palate: Clean and coastal to begin, with rock salt, some salted caramel, and almonds. Then more floral notes, with apple blossom and honey. Some custard creams, pear skins and candied pineapple too. Freshly sawn oak.

Finish: Coastal notes, with fresh citrus, and drying oak.

Overall: A very, very good example of what can happen when Bruichladdich spirit is left to sleep in bourbon casks for a lengthy period of time. Complex and layered; the fruity notes, coastal notes, and cereal notes combine beautifully to give a wonderful flavour experience. As a whisky, it’s excellent. As a product, I have to query the RRP; £750 for this is A LOT. I’m not sure with the release consisting of 6,000 bottles – meaning it’s not really *that* limited – that the hefty price tag is really justified. Should you have the means to drop that kind of money on a bottle of whisky, it’ll be available in specialist retailers later this month.




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