We arrived at Bruichladdich on a stunning spring day in 2009, met the iconic maverick Jim McEwan, the distillery's production director, who raised more than two eyebrows at Steve's Ardbeg jacket and informed us to prepare ourselves for the mother of all tours.......
Equipped with our Bruichladdich glencairn glasses we followed our host into one of the dunnage warehouses.
The entrance to the wizard's lair.
As we entered our nostrils were assailed by an atmosphere drenched in maturing whisky. These were not just Bruichladdich casks but whisky from many other distilleries that Murray McDavid, the current owners of Bruichladdich, might release as independent bottlings.
Jim, Steve and Les investigating an 18yo Lagavulin with Eve recording the evidence.
A little further into the warehouse Jim stopped next to a 100 litre cask dwarfed by the hoggies around it. Jim paused, looked at each one of us and in the musty silence that followed, released the stopper on the cask, dipped his valinch into the contents and with genuine reverence, dipped his finger into the liquid, then annointed each one of us with a cross on the forehead.
Jim McEwan and the X4+3
He then announced that this was his X4+3, the original quadruple distilled new make from 2006 that had matured for three years in this small amontillado cask and had an abv of 83%. A dram was poured into each of our glasses and the response was a unanimous "Oh, my God!" Despite the strength, the whisky was explosive in the fruity velvet flavours that coated every inch of every sense, A superlative like 'stunning' doesn't even come close....
Steve, Eve, Dave & Les post X4+3, taken by Jim McEwan.
Bruichladdich X4+3 Perilous Spirit Quadruple Distilled & 3 Aged Years in Ex-Bourbon and Virgin Oak 63.5%"...from an original 1695 recipe"
Vanilla custard and a hint of ripe marula, grapefruit and coconut.
The palate has icing sugar sprinkled on vodka marinated grapefruit.
A dash of water appears to morph the tropical fruits to tropical flowers with hints of frangipani, then the vanilla custard squeezes through in shiel loads.
The palate now sweeter with a nod at its youth as notes of new make start to arrive and the grapefruit finishes less bitter. 83