The Bladnoch expressions keep coming, as we turn to three newly available bottlings — the new permanent edition Vinaya and two whiskies that will be released annually — an 11 year old and a 14 year old. All the pertinent details follow as we taste.
All are bottled at 93.4 proof.
Bladnoch Vinaya – From a Sanskrit word meaning respect and gratitude, this is the second NAS malt in the Bladnoch portfolio, after Samsara. Matured in a mix of bourbon and sherry casks, both first-fill. A bit fuzzy on the nose, the whisky shows a somewhat boozy, earthy character and a healthy cereal character that sharpens up in time with some notes of orange peel that push through it all. Imagine my surprise to find this whisky so bright and sweet on the palate, chewy with nougat, lots of vanilla, and a delightful mix of green apple, tangerine, and baking spice. Honey and a light touch of milk chocolate develop as the finish closes in, with some brooding burlap notes giving the conclusion a sense of gravity. You wouldn’t know it from the nose, but this is a nicely balanced and classically-structured single malt with a little bit of everything to offer. B+ / $46 [BUY IT NOW FROM CASKERS] [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]
Bladnoch 11 Years Old (2021) – Matured in 100% ex-bourbon casks. Toasty wood and sesame seed notes dominate here, the nose eventually taking on a character akin to dusty butterscotch candies that have been sitting in a pocket for a year or two. The balance doesn’t feel ideal on the palate either, which comes across as surprisingly hot (though it’s the same abv as Vinaya), with a heavily perfumed yet also weirdly vegetal note, and more of that oversweetened butterscotch melding oddly with a finishing note of dill. Lands with a thud. B- / $65 [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY BARREL]
Bladnoch 14 Years Old (2021) – Fully matured in ex-Oloroso sherry casks. Immediately, really odd: This comes across on the nose with a burst of smoke; I would have thought this was peated had I not known otherwise. Old wood, oily furniture polish, and a massive aroma of raisin and prune give this a power and pungency that is unique in the Bladnoch line — though the smoke dissipates with a bit of time in glass. An overbearing woodiness continues the theme on the palate, strongly winey and heavily oxidized, with an austere, leathery character that evokes Amontillado over Oloroso. This ultimately feels like a case of too much time in sherry casks, those oxidized wine notes absolutely battering the whisky around well into its lengthy, pushy finish to the point where you can taste nothing else. B- / $110 [BUY IT NOW FROM THE WHISKY EXCHANGE]