Bruichladdich Black Art 04.1 23 Year (1990)

Scotch Whisky Review #409: Bruichladdich Black Art 04.1 23 Year (1990)

Distillery: Bruichladdich.

Region: Islay.

Age: 23 Year. Distilled in 1990. Bottled in June of 2014.

ABV: 49.2%

Price: $26 for an 1 oz sample.

Color: 1.6, Mahogany/Henna Notes. Natural Color and Non-Chill Filtered.

Nose: For being sub-50% ABV, it is unusually sharp on the nose. It punches straight to the back of your nostrils. Once you can get past the strong and sharp alcoholic punch, you get some nice dark fruity notes. There’s a boozy, jammy dark cherry and plum note. It’s almost like someone added some kirsch to a cherry and plum jam. Cigar ash pops in toward the back with some really gritty, earthy notes.

Palate: The palate, unfortunately, felt quite muted at full strength. A drop of water opened things up a touch but there really wasn’t a lot going on. You get the cherry and plum jam notes again but they’re muted. There’s a point where notes of chocolate kick in, which is nice.

Finish: Fairly long. The plum, cherry, and cigar ash notes come again.

Conclusion: Jim McEwan’s last Black Art might be one of the most hyped whiskies I’ve seen and naturally I’ve always been curious to try it. I’ve enjoyed all of the Adam Hannett’s Black Art releases I’ve tried but when you hear McEwan did it better, you start to get a bit of FOMO. While it would be hard for anything to live up to this level of hype, Black Art 04.1 seemed to fall extremely short of it. It came across as an incredibly straightforward whisky for me. Cherry, plum, a bit of cigar, a bit of chocolate, done. There was nothing exciting, no layers of flavors to uncover, heck it just tasted muted to begin with. While it is not bad by any stretch of the imagination and there are always questions about reviewing off of a single pour, I can’t help but feel that the fact this was McEwan’s last crack at the series drove a lot of the praise more than the whisky itself.

Final Score: 82.

Note: I’ve made some changes to the scoring legend, the descriptions have been updated slightly to match my actual scoring a little better.

Scotch Whisky Review #409, Islay Review #66, Whisky Network Review #563

Scoring Legend:

  • 96-100: The perfect dram, nectar of the gods.
  • 90-95: Near perfect, there is something truly special about this whisky and I will always try to keep a bottle of this in my collection if feasible.
  • 85-89: Very good to amazing, almost the complete product and I’m likely wanting a bottle or two.
  • 80-84: Quite good, pleasant overall though there is usually a few things that could be improved still.
  • 75-79: Good, enjoyable to drink but ultimately flawed.
  • 70-74: Alright, solid and wouldn’t go out of my way to get it.
  • 60-69: Meh, still drinkable.
  • Below 59: If you have a bottle of this, start cooking with it instead.

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