Our December Auction features a near-complete collection of Bruichladdich Valinch bottlings from Pat's Whisk(e)y Collection. The Valinch bottlings are 50cl single cask releases, available exclusively from the distillery. More recent versions have also been hand-filled by distillery visitors. The Valinch series is a celebration that embraces all of Bruichladdich's employees, with a single cask chosen to honour each employee. At 80 employees (and counting!) the series has afforded Bruichladdich to bottle some really interesting and alternative cask finishes, each selected for their individuality.
Today we've selected a few of the unusual cask finishings from the Valinch series which can provide a fascinating tasting experience and exploration through types of casks and their influence on Scotch whisky. Each of the below highlights can be found in our December Auction.
Our first selection is Valinch #32, a 2007 vintage Valinch bottling in celebration of Lynne McEwan, Senior Brand Manager and daughter of whisky legend Jim McEwan. One of only 396 bottles, this was matured for ten years in single Rivesaltes cask #1308. Rivesaltes is a sweet fortified wine from France's Languedoc-Roussilllon region with primary aromas and flavours of dried fruits, nuts and resin. The sweet qualities from Rivesaltes casks are particularly complementary of Bruichladdich's fresh and floral distillery character.
Next we have Valinch #11, a 1992 vintage bottling in celebration of Raymond Tibbs, a retail assistant and tour guide at Bruichladdich distillery. One of 618 bottles, this was matured in a bourbon cask before 'enhancement' in a Calvados cask and bottling at 22 years old. Calvados is a variety of brandy made from apples (sometimes pears) and much like Champagne it has to be grown in a certain area to be named Calvados, and that is Normandy in northern France. As someone with an affection and proclivity for Calvados, this bottling definitely captivated my attention. The distinctive apple fruit character of Calvados is a wonderful alliance with Islay malts to create a rich flavour profile.
This is going to be something interesting for sure. This Valinch bottling honours Ailsa Hayes, retail and office manager at Bruichladdich, and Graham Hayes, a distilling operator. Distilled in 1992, this 22 year old whisky was matured initially in a bourbon barrel, before finishing in a Guyanan rum cask. Rum from Guyana is renowned for their full body, intensely rich fruity flavours and subtle spice. Finishing in rum casks is an unusual experiment we are beginning to see more widely in the whisky industry, as the exotic and tropical fruity flavours derived from the Caribbean casks lend themselves particularly well to whisky.
To add to the list of unusual cask finishes we have Valinch #15, a 1992 vintage bottling in celebration of Douglas Clyne, Bruichladdich's engineer. This 22 year old whisky was matured in a bourbon barrel before undergoing an extra maturation period in a Figuero cask. Figuero is a renowned winery in the vilage of La Horra in Spain, famed for their 100% Tempranillo wines. Tempranillo is Spain's signature red grape recognised for producing wildly diverse wines with juicy red fruit characteristics. Because of the tannin in red wine casks, they can provide impressive results by imparting a noticeable dryness and fruity character to whiskies.