It is an unfortunate reality that the LCBO typically doesn't make much of an effort to even occasionally stock their shelves with rarer Bruichladdich expressions. Typically, one must travel to locales where specialty shops stock harder to find releases. This 17 year old, 43% ABV bottling was purchased this past summer at the fantastic Park Avenue Liquor in New York City. Finishing in first-fill Pedro XimÃ©nez sherry casks has transformed Bruichladdich's light, pure spirit into a rich smÃ¶rgÃ¥sbord of notes and flavours.
Nose: Figs and dates immediately pop from the glass. Buttery toffee and brown sugar intermingle wonderfully with the light smoke of the base spirit. Richness is the defining characteristic here, a surprise departure from the typical Bruichladdich dram. There is a sweet fresh baked dough note that appears after adding a touch of water.
Palate: An exceedingly rich mouthfeel, this is like eating a fresh coffee cake complete with cream cheese icing. Being used to the Fino and Oloroso aged whiskies from the likes of The Macallan and Glenfarclas, I was surprised to find that the Pedro XimÃ©nez cask aging seemed to impart a much dryer flavour than those other sherries. Adding water eases off the dryness a touch, while adding a sweeter, rich grape juice flavour to the expression.
Finish: Uncommonly long and very enjoyable, the light smokiness of the Bruichladdich spirit shines through here. This whisky warms the mouth as flavours of toasted and candied walnuts linger on your tongue. This is in my opinion, the best part of this particular whisky.
Overall: If you're someone who loves heavily sherried Speysides, this Islay region expression will tantalize your senses with the joy of sherry and the complexity of light smoke, if you can find it that is. Bottled in 2009, this expression is becoming harder and harder to find, but is worth every soon-to-be-discontinued penny should you secure a bottle.