Jim McEwan Masterclass at The Oxford Hotel, Leederville, $50.
What a privilege to have one of the doyens of whisky touring Australia to impart his wisdom, wit and charm as he led us on a journey through Bruichladdich and the history of Islay. On top of that, Jim raised over $11,000 for the Red Cross through donations received at his engaging masterclasses. An amazing night – bagpipes, laughter, touching stories, dancing on tables, a history lesson and we got to try some outstanding whisky too. As it’s getting to the pointy end of Whisky a Day, I had previously tasted four of the Bruichladdichs on offer here so I won’t cover those again, so I’ll focus on the Islay Barley and the Black Art.
2006 Bruichladdich Islay Barley 5 Year Old Single Malt. Islay, Scotland. ABV: 50.00%.
Colour: Very pale straw.
Nose: Camphor, soft oak & straw notes.
Palate: Malty, not peaty at all.
Finish: Long; lingering warmth and tingle.
Comments: This expression is produced with 100% Islay grown barley. Even the name of the farm is on the tin – nice touch. According to Jim the last time 100% Islay barley used was 1914. Overall it’s pretty decent, but not my pick of the night.
Jim holding court and leading the room in a boisterous version of the Scottish national anthem
Bruichladdich 23 Year Old 1990 Black Art 04.1. ABV: 49.2%.
Colour: Dark luscious toffee.
Nose: Muscatelles, lightly charred oak, dried fruits. Smells amazing.
Palate: Salted toffee, charcoal flavours. Meaty without being peaty.
Finish: Medium to long, quite a soft finish – not as intense as the Islay Barley.
Comments: No one knows the recipe or what casks are used except Jim – so it’s only appropriate that it bears the moniker “black art”. Really liked this one! Sensational, the clear standout of the night’s tastings for me.
This is apparently the traditional way the Scots say slàinte!