Bruichladdich has a famous devotion to transparency when it comes to what’s in its whiskies, with one exception: Black Art, a single malt that’s vatted from any number of types of casks, differing (wildly) with every release but never enumerated. Black Art does carry an age statement, though, and a vintage statement. Black Art 8.1 was distilled in 1994, and it’s bottled with a 26 year old age statement. And, spoiler, it’s my favorite Black Art release to date.
Right from the start, Black Art 8.1 explodes with a rich and exotic nose, featuring leather and oak that quickly slide into a variety of fruit components: berries, coconut, and pineapple, even. There’s definitely some citrus-driven sherry in the mix here, but an oatmeal raisin cookie dough note is what engages the most.
The palate is chewy and equally complex, featuring fresh cereal that gives way to oily citrus, grapefruit, and honey notes. As it evolves in the glass, the whisky takes on notes of exotic rug shop and incense before making its way to a seemingly endless finish. There’s furniture polish austerity here, but also lots of lingering sherry, banana, and Christmas cake notes. Beautiful stuff that dazzles with its immersive complexity — it’s hard to put down, as it seems something new is perking up in the glass with every additional sip.