Every so often a distillery absolutely nails a whisky, and in this instance the team at Bruichladdich hit a grand slam. Part of their peated series of releases which also includes their Octomore line, this one’s 40ppm phenol puts it in the same territory as Lagavulin and other Islay heavyweights. But don’t be fooled, the peat, smoke, and overall profile of this particular dram is dramatically different from any other whisky produced elsewhere on the island.
Translated from Gaelic to English, “An Turas Mor” means “the great journey”, and when this is translated into Bruichladdian parlance it indicates that this particular release is a multi-vintage melange of the 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2005 Port Charlotte offerings. Matured exclusively in American oak (read ex-bourbon) casks and bottled in 2010 as part of a run of 10,000 cases, it is coming to an end as it is due to be replaced by the Peat Project later this year, making it even more worthy of your attention.
Nose: Vanilla, honey, and a deep, sweet smoke climb out of the glass in a long and lazy six-way tango with salt air, soft suede, and a light and lovely woody note. Dancing around all of this are floral heather hints that serve to create a truly interesting nose that will drag you back in on its own.
Palate: The smoke and vanilla seem joined at the hip, but it is here that the peat makes itself known as the fuel for that smoke. Light citrus and cocoa percolate behind a delicate fruitiness while salt and sweet play out in perfect balance. It should be noted that despite the aforementioned 40ppm, the peat here is nothing like other Islay malts of such ilk as it does not force its way to the fore in a display of sharp earthiness. Over time, and with little of the heat one would expect at 46% ABV, all of these notes play out like a symphony, constantly rising and falling to a long lasting and entertaining effect.