It’s all in the Black arts.
Bruichladdich is one of the most impressive distilleries in Scotland. It was built on Islay in 1881 by the Harvey brothers, who came from a Whisky dynasty. The brothers had wanted to create a distillery that was the very antithesis of an Islay farm distillery. They built a cathedral-like, state-of-the-art Victorian still house, where they used 6m tall stills — unheard of at that time. Now owned by Remy Cointreau, the distillery remains pretty much the same as it has for the last 100 years with slow fermentation, “trickle” distillation in traditional wooden vats, and huge washes made from towering Douglas Fir.
Bruichladdich Black Art isn’t just marketing spin. Sure, they play up the kitschy theme with a black, opaque bottle adorned with icons plucked from Masonic Temple conspiracy websites, but this 4th iteration of their non-peated single malt is a genuine mystery — because they won’t tell you a darned thing about it. “Black Art,” get it? They basically let master distiller Jim McEwan run wild in the Bruichladdich rick-house grabbing casks from 1990. But the adventurous is rewarded with a sublimely aged single malt at 49.2% ABV that is grabbing Gold Medals all over the place.