So, Bruichladdich Black arts… Time for an official review. I have tasted a few of the batches over the years, and never liked them too much. Not that they were bad, but the wine was too strong for me (I am not a huge fan of wine in my whisky). For those of you who are not familiar with Black Arts, this is essentially a vatting of several cask types, some of them ex-wine, and some ex-bourbon and others , not sure which. Bruichladdich states:
This fourth incarnation of the now legendary Black Art is as enigmatic as ever, the composition of casks a mystery to all but its creator. Working with the very finest American and French oak to explore that most esoteric relationship between spirit and wood, Black Art 4 is Master Distiller Jim McEwan’s personal voyage into the heart of Bruichladdich. We believe in the soul of the artisan.
Not a whole lot of info, right? anyways, if you smell and taste it, it’s quite clear it’s quite wine-centric. Time to taste some!
Bruichladdich Black Arts 4.1 vintage 1990, 49.2 % , ~ €250
Nose: Not very vinous, which is nice (at least for me), but quite deep and sweet, with a nice sweetness along notes of citrus fruit, and dark ripe fruit, sherry and sweet wine (date, fig?), and some earthy notes as well, it’s quite think and not unexpectedly so, looking at its lovely color. There are also touches of vanilla, and a wee whiff of smoke. Lovely stuff on the nose, indeed. Much nicer than I remembered, but let’s see what’s happening on the palate…
Palate: OK, this is more like i remembered it. quite a vinous entry, with chocolate , tobacco and dried fruit on the second wave of sensations, more wood as well. The wine-y notes disappear quickly which is a good thing, and we’re left with quite a complex combination of deep flavors. Chilly infused chocolate, cinnamon, coffee beans, and some nuts as well, and a smoky touch (or is it the tobacco leaf?)
Finish: Chocolate, nuts, cocoa powder and spice.
Conclusion: Well, I have to say that this is far nicer than i remember it from previous tastings, maybe it’s a different vatting from the firs editions, no idea which casks Jim put inside but the nose, is lovely, and the palate, save the vinous note that disappears quickly, and gives way to oodles of chocolate and other sweet goodness is very nice. A bit less wine influence and this could be in the 90’s… at any rate, very good stuff, and not cheap, if you can find any in some shops or auctions….
Available at bestofwhiskies.com, € 247