Creating a multi-vintage cuvee such as The Classic Laddie is one of the most complex and demanding responsibilities shouldered by our Head Distiller and blender Adam Hannett. This fascinating single malt showcases the elegant, floral style of Bruichladdich, and it is achieved by carefully assembling a suite of flavours from a wide array of casks.
As a blender, Adam needs a profound understanding of the character of the stocks that are slumbering in our salt-soaked loch side warehouses on Islay – so carrying a multi-dimensional picture of the sensory potential that surrounds him is an absolute requirement of the role.
He is responsible for an inventory of over 60,000 casks. Although the majority are American oak, Adam additionally has a broad portfolio of wood from around 200 different sources. The age of spirit they hold ranges from new make to a very small amount that dates back to the 1970’s.
Empathy with this collection can only be achieved through regular, systematic sampling in the warehouses. This means extracting bungs and drawing liquid from the cask with a valinch, then carefully evaluating the spirits by nose, taste, mouthfeel and eye. It is an intellectual exercise requiring a clear head, intense concentration, and a rigorous approach to note-taking.
The spirit is constantly changing as it matures and an understanding of the rate and character of the change can only come from experience and constant monitoring.
Each vatting of The Classic Laddie varies but it will typically be constructed from a selection of around ten different cask types, some of different ages, hence the term ‘multi-vintage’. The majority of casks used will be American and ex-Bourbon but there is usually also some European oak.