Bruichladdich Distillery recently unveiled the latest addition to its mysterious Black Art series, with the release of Black Art Edition 11. This limited-edition annual release, shrouded in secrecy since its inception in 2012, continues to captivate whisky enthusiasts worldwide.
In stark contrast to Bruichladdich’s commitment to transparency, where the complete recipe of each single malt is laid bare, Black Art is an enigma, known only to Head Distiller Adam Hannett. The composition of casks and their origins remain a closely guarded secret, with only the vintage, age, and ABV (44.2% alc./vol) disclosed. Like all whiskies from Bruichladdich, Black Art is bottled without chill-filtration and without added colouring.
Adam Hannett, expressing his anticipation for each Black Art creation, describes it as a liberating experience that allows for unbridled creative exploration. The process involves delving deep into Islay’s warehouses, pushing the boundaries of possibility to craft a whisky that embodies complete creative freedom.
Despite the brand’s commitment to transparency, Black Art signifies a moment of absolute trust — trust in the whisky maker’s creativity, in the time-honored craft, and in the pursuit of unforgettable flavor.
This 24-year-old single malt, crafted from pre-renaissance casks maturing exclusively on Islay for nearly three decades, offers a sensory journey. The nose reveals dried fruits, leather, and a hint of citrus, followed by a delicate bouquet of rose hip syrup, poached pear, and sweet mango. On the palate, dried fruits, barley sugar, leather, and toasted oak evolve into velvety butterscotch sweetness, balanced with nutty praline and hints of coconut. The single malt culminates in a beautifully rounded, smooth finish reminiscent of a rich Christmas cake, with notes of sultanas, marzipan, and lingering honey.
We had the opportunity to sample this much-anticipated release and as usual, Bruichladdich quite simply does not disappoint. Not only their secretive Black Art, but all of their releases are a testament to the guiding ethos of the distillery, which is communicated perfectly by their tagline, “We believe terroir matters.” What does this mean, though?
Terroir, most often linked with the wine realm, encompasses the natural factors shaping the character of grapes, such as soil, sunlight, and climate. Bruichladdich applies this concept to whisky, recognizing its influence in adding subtle nuances, complexity, and variety to their single malts, profoundly impacting the drinking experience. This influence varies not only regionally but also from farm to farm, field to field, harvest to harvest, and vintage to vintage. Despite the complexity and micro-influences involved, Bruichladdich embraces terroir as a defining aspect of their brand philosophy, challenging traditional norms in the Scotch whisky industry.
Since the distillery’s reopening in 2001, Bruichladdich has made terroir a central focus. They meticulously label and trace different barley varieties from various farms and fields, distilling each separately, including conventionally grown barley like Optic, Propino, Concerto, Chalice, Publican, Golden Promise, and Maris Otter, as well as organically grown barley and ancient Bere Barley.
With an average of 19 Islay farmers annually contributing barley, some distilled separately and some consolidated, Bruichladdich explores diverse combinations and permutations, resulting in remarkable uber-provenance whiskies. Since 2001, they’ve exclusively used 100% Scottish barley, expanding to a portfolio of uber-provenance whiskies distilled from local Islay farms, such as the ‘Islay Barley’ editions of Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte, and Octomore, Bere Barley whiskies from Orkney and Islay, and organic whiskies from the Scottish mainland.
This philosophy informs and guides everything Bruichladdich does, and we salute their approach to locality, transparency, and quality. The Black Art release stands alone each year as Bruichladdich’s only release shrouded in near-total secrecy, a total departure from their usual insistence on full transparency.
Black Art Edition 11, a 1994 vintage, is available for purchase in Malaysia and globally through platforms like bruichladdich.com and specialist whisky retailers. For more information, visit bruichladdich.com.