Bruichladdich First Growth Cuvée C: Margaux (Chateau Margaux) 16 Year Old

Recent visits to the SAQ had incited my curiosity regarding a particular whisky from a brand to which I was relatively unfamiliar.  My interest was a result not only of the fact that I had heard tremendously good things about the Bruichladdich distillery at which the whisky was produced, but also of the bottling in questing.  The subject of my interest was the Cuvée C, a 16 year old Bruichladdich finished in French wine casks.  Recently, Bruichladdich has taken to finishing their standard 16 year old in casks from the Bordeaux region of France.  This particular bottle was aged in casks from the Chateau Margaux and was produced, like the other bottlings in the series, in limited quantities.  The series is ordered alphabetically, the Cuvée C  being the third in the range.  My understanding is that only 12,000 bottles of each series is produced and each bottle is numbered.  My particular bottle is number 6922 of 12,000.

I acquired the bottle during a sale at the SAQ quite some time ago, however I held onto it in order to share during a special occasion.  The occasion presented itself in the form of a whisky tasting gathering this past weekend.  I brought the unopened bottle and in great earnest shared its story with my companion.  Indeed, though were were only two, we subjected many a bottle to the test of taste in order to satisfy my readers’ curiosity.  The results of our combined experienced will be shared over the coming weeks.

To gaze upon this whisky is to experience a visual delight seldom attributed to liquid in a glass.  The colour is a deep amber, like a variety of maple syrup.  It hints of deep orange and even red under the right light.  A fantastic display of the effect of fine oak on what was initially a colourless liquid.  It runs slowly on thin legs when swirled gently in the glass and allowed to settle.

The nose is brilliantly smooth.  The sense of smell is tickled by light fruit, grape, some sherry, and some strawberry to finish it off.

On the palate, the smooth texture of the whisky leaves no room for error: this is an exceptionally delicate and soft whisky.  Nevertheless, the whisky is intensely fruity, continuing with grape and hints of sherry.  There is some grapefruit piercing through the overall fruitiness.  Yet, delve deeper and you’ll find oak, old leather, and tobacco.  A fantastic mix of perfectly entwined flavours leading to one of the most satisfying tastings you will find in a whisky.

The finish is long and satisfying, full of fruit, grape, oak, and spice.  I sense a bit of marmalade as it wears off.

Adding a little water intensifies the nose, keeping the fruity sweetness in tact but rendering it all the more smooth if possible.  The palate remains silky smooth, the fruits becoming more intense.  Some of the marmalade I sensed on the finish before adding water comes through now on the palate.  A bit of orange zest is introduced and soft spices.  The finish remains mostly unchanged, the spice becoming more prominent.

Overall this is the best whisky I have tasted to date.  This product sets a rather high bar for all that will come after as well as those that came before.  If I could find others in the series, I would definitely buy them.  Alas, the Series A is sold out now at the SAQ and I have never seen the others anywhere.  Bruichladdich (pronounced Bruich-Laddie) has done a marvelous job enhancing its 16 year old product and turning it into something special.  The SAQ still has bottles of the Cuvée C in stock, do yourselves a favour and pick one up!


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