Islay region – 63.5%ABV – 700ml bottle (not available through US stores) – £49 | €58
E=MC2 | a2 + b2 = c2 | ei∏ = -1 | Ax = b <—– what does it all mean? Perhaps Bruichladdich’s X4+3 can help us solve problems such as these (or at least get us tipsy enough so as we just don’t give a rat tuckas about it…).
The Bruichladdich X4+3 is a damn interesting… whisky? Hmmm, let’s see.
Ok, before I begin, please know that I am not one for the technicalities. Actually, scratch that. I LOVE geeking out on all of the technical ins-and-outs of…pretty much anything, but, ESPECIALLY whisky (oh yeah, and guitar effects pedals). I just don’t like writing on these subjects. Too many damn words. I will, however, try to summarize some techy stuff for you and hope that I get it all right[ish].
Most whiskies (be they Scotch, American, Japanese, Welsh, Swedish, etc, etc…) are distilled twice, two and a half times or three times. That’s just how it is folks. Almost all Scotch whisky is distilled twice (The Campbeltown whisky “Springbank” is distilled 2.5 times and Hazelburn distills 3 times). The Irish, for the most part distill 3 times and it’s a bit of a mixture here in the US.
The good folks over at Bruichladdich thought that they’d go and one-up everyone by quadruple distilling their spirit (unpeated spirit) then age it for 3 years in both ex-bourbon and French oak barrels.
So, 4x distilled, aged three years (X4+3… get it? Good.).
On top of this, the spirit that goes into the barrels is corked at 90%ABV (feck!). The average is in the 60’s (63.5 – 67% – average. Though, some may say otherwise).
Is this the best example of “mine is bigger than yours” or what?
Truth be told, this process is nothing new and the Bruich’laddies are not trying to one-up anybody. This process of quadruple distilling goes back hundreds of years but has not been mimicked until present date. The earliest mention of it was back in 1695 by Martin Martin. He explained the drinking of this type of spirit as such: “…The first taste affect all the members of the body. Two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if ANY man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath and endanger his life.”
G-d, I’m getting thirsty!
So, is this or is this not whisky? Re-cap: traditional whisky is 2-3 times distilled, poured into barrels at 63.5% ABV. The X4+3 is quadruple distilled and poured into barrels at 90%ABV…
Eh, screw it. Let’s just taste this stuff.
On the nose – Powerfully strong and filled with limes, grapefruit, strawberries and rocket fuel.
I’m actually getting some grape lollypops and cranberry juice here.
Not as chemically as I expected but powerfully spirited! Candied fruits.
With water — Peppery (think scotch bonnet – sweet and feckin’ hot as $hit), gooseberries, toy model glue.
On the mouth – Bent plastic superheroes, He-man toys and Transformers (More Than Meets The Eye™).
**Loads** of poached pears with touch of cinnamon.
With water — All of the focus is on those poached pears. Straight forward but now getting duo-dimensional as some malty notes reared their head(s).
I liked it more without water when I got those plasticy notes along-side the pear notes.
Great mouth feel with water.
Finish – The first three layers of skin in my mouth have been removed but, I’m cool with that.
In sum – This is one to bring out to parties to say, “Hey guys/gals… check this out!”. It’s beats huffing glue, that’s for sure!
All joking aside, I would never reach for this. However, the X4+3 is a damn interesting dram and one that may work quite well with the mixologists out there (what, with all the fruits and high alcohol content). Also, kudos to Bruichladdich for doing something that has not been done for centuries, bottling it and marketing it. That’s brass balls baby!