By the way, what's wrong with trying the "flagship"? If you want to get the best example of what the distillery is typically trying to achieve, then surely the flagship is the best way to do this? What's the point of trying to find out about Bruichladdich by sampling one of their rare and atypical bottlings?
You ask a good question Admiral. I will try and give you my best answer.
I think Bamber’s comment best illustrates my fear.
bamber wrote: Personally the 10 did not grab me at all, but I enjoyed the 15 a lot and would recommend it. These and the 17 are the only ones I've tried. I'm tempted by the 3d, but the price and my experience with the 10 have put me off up to now.
I don’t want to be out some $57 (the price of the 10yo in Seattle) just to know I don’t like the “main taste” Bruichladdich is going for (or $78 – 15yo, and $115 – XVII). It would be nice to know academically, but not for my wallet. Ya, I find it fun and enjoyable to try a new malt but I am tired of the cost. If I could find samplers of all the malts I wanted to try I would go that route (so far I have not been very successful
). So my other option is run with my current taste palate and get as close as I can on my next “try.” Why would I do that? Here is a little story.
Almost a year ago I did a tasting between the heavier peated flagship Islay malts (Ardbeg 10yo, Lagavulin 16yo, Laphroaig 10yo, and Caol Ila 12yo,). Ardbeg came out the clear winner with Laphroaig coming in dead last. At that point I was ready to never buy another bottle of Laphroaig (why waste the time and money?). And I wouldn’t have except that on a whim (for my birthday) I picked up a bottle of the Laphroaig 10yo CS just to have another cask strength bottle to compare with 4 others (I was also picking up at the time). Well, I totally fell in love with this bottle, and to date it is my favorite malt. Now, since I fell in love with the CS I have gone back to that ¾ full bottle of Laphroaig 10yo sitting on my shelf since last February. Because of the CS version I was really able to appreciate this bottle again. Laphroaig has risen in my appreciate from a “never buy again” to one of favorite distilleries (I have since picked up the 15yo and have deep longings to spring for the 30yo by the time I turn 30 in October).
What I learned - when I like one bottle from a distillery lineup it helps me to appreciate the nuances in the rest of the expressions from that distillery.
Back to the issue at hand - If I am going to try just one expression from Bruichladdich I want it to be the one I have the greatest chance of liking. Lets face it, the Laddie is no Oban, Scapa, Old Pulteney, or even Bunnahabhain where you have one major expression and then a few expensive, exclusive bottles that only a true devotee would spring for. Laddie seems to offer between 10 & 14 different bottles that fall between the price jump from Highland Park 12yo to the 18. Now, while I realize that the 10yo is the current mainstay from Laddie, after reading numerous descriptions about it I am feeling confident that I will NOT like it. And $78 is not a gamble I am willing to make on the 15yo being that much better. If I could find the Bruichladdich taster mentioned I would buy it in a heart beat (I love that kind of thing). So far I am lucky to find a store that carries a bottle of the Laddie.
My desire – So far everything I have seen and read about Bruichladdich seems to be the kind of distillery I want to like and get behind. I don’t have to tell you guys the recent history (or their commitment to non-chillfiltering, and coloring free). I get giggly thinking about the upcoming Port Charlotte and I can’t describe my hopes for Octomore
. (Just the other day I noticed that the whisky exchange already has Port Charlotte listed under its distilleries . . . giggles
). It seems like Laddie is making some great strides and putting out some great whisky. I have found a store that seems to offer the widest variety of Bruichladdich I have seen yet (and will soon be out of my reach). If I can I would like to pick up the bottle I have the greatest chance of liking (which hopefully will lead to more). Again, I am just scared of ending up with a ¾ full bottle of Laddie 10yo or 15yo, that much out of pocket, and gun shy of the next bottle.
Does that explain enough of my thinking Admiral?
You are welcome to disagree, but for my money it seems like a better gamble.