I mentioned in a previous post that my collection contains two bottlings of Aberlour by Blackadder. Blackadder whiskys are special because the buy casks directly from the distilleries and literally pour them straight into a bottle. The resultant whisky specifies the actual barrel (hogshead) number along with the year of distillation and the year of the bottling.
Because Blackadder avoid the chill filtering process, and also do not blend various ages together for consistency (I’ll talk more about the reason for both of these processes in later posts) the resulting single malt is very inconsistent in terms of colour and flavour but yet has many spectacular characteristics of its own. Each bottle is essentially unique and a masterpiece in its own right, never to be repeated.
I originally got into the Blackadder bottlings around 7 or so years ago after moving to the US. As I was still making a number of flights back to England I was always finding myself in London’s Heathrow Airport Terminal 3 awaiting Virgin Atlantic flight to Boston. Inside Terminal 3 there is a great specialty whisky store, making the wait that much easier. At around the same time I had read about the popularity increase of non-chill filtered single malts and wanted to try it for myself, which lead directly to a purchase of Blackadder Aberlour (Aberlour being my favourite distillery of the time).
As far as I know, that store was the only one in the UK to sell Blackadder bottlings, but shortly after my second purchase I was informed that they were no longer stocking the product. A bit of research showed that the majority of the product was being exported to Sweden of all places, making it a bit out of my reach. Over the last few years Blackadder have finally been extending their reach and at last they have announced an import deal with a US company.
I would encourage anyone that comes across Blackadder for sale to make the purchase. It is a little expensive (I paid a little over $200 per bottle if I remember correctly), but well worth it. Before adding water, the aroma amazingly seems ‘locked in’ to the liquid, but once diluted to a more palatable 35-40% the natural oils in the whisky start to become apparent and the aroma bursts out. The tongue feel is amazing, with a nice smooth and oily feel and a delectably long and smooth finish.
Regarding the two bottlings that I continue to eke out (by only drinking on extra special occasions), even though they are bottled from consecutive hogsheads they are very different in character. #3317 has a soft warm hue, and a smooth flavour with very nice and lengthy finish. #3318 is much lighter, almost clear, and yet has a very punchy flavour and a bright and potent aroma.
I’ll provide tasting notes next time a special occasion comes up. While you will probably not find the same bottling of the same hogshead, it should highlight how different each cask can really be.
More information at www.blackadder.com. Personally I cannot wait to try their Bruichladdich.