An advance press release for the much-debated Bruichladdich X4 white dog – sorry, ‘Islay Spirit’ – has found its way into my inbox, so I thought I should share. I’ve had to type it out as I can’t copy the text from an image file, but it’s probably better this way as much of the text on the file I have is SHOUTING IN BLOCK CAPITALS! I THINK WHOEVER PUT IT TOGETHER MUST HAVE BEEN VERY EXCITED ABOUT THE WHOLE THING!!!
“X4: TRUE ISLAY SPIRIT
A traveller to the Hebrides in 1695 wrote one of the first ever whisky tasting notes. The whisky was “…Four times distilled, and by this the natives is called Usquebaugh-Baul…[that is] usquebaugh, which at first taste affects all the members of the body; Two spoonfulls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man exceed this, it would presently stop his breath and endanger his life.”
Usquebaugh-baul, pronounced ‘oosh-ker-vah-voll’ translates from the Gaelic as ‘perilous whisky’. Distilled four times to a strength of around 90% ABV (180 proof) you can see how it got its name. With a tasting note like that, and naturally inquisitive, head distiller Jim McEwan was intrigued enough to see what the long-forgotten, four times distillation would give. The answer is – exceptional purity. This clear, unaged spirit, distilled from malted barley the usual way in Bruichladdich’s tall, elegant pot stills – and then distilled twice again – has substantial flavour compared to other commercially produced white spirits.
Aqua vita, vodka, eau-de-vie, aquavit and whisky all share one thing: they mean “water of life”. If you want to know the whisky our Hebridean forefathers drank – this is it. Clear, strong, pure, flavoursome spirit – straight off the (illegal) still. Today, new spirit must be three years of age before it can be called whisky.
In 1695 they didn’t wait.
[Editor’s Note: The remainder of this press release has been reproduced in its original format to preserve its hyperbolic comic effect]
- ALC./VOL RESPONSIBLY REDUCED AT BOTTLING TO 50% WITH ISLAY SPRING WATER.
- UNIQUE SPIRIT: FIRST QUADRUPLE POT STILL DISTILLATION IN 300 YEARS. FROM 100% BARLEY, STRAIGHT FROM THE STILL.
- SMALL BATCH RELEASE; 6000 BOTTLES ONLY FOR FIRST BATCH – TO BE FOLLOWED BY FURTHER SMALL BATCH DISTILLATIONS.
- PUREST ISLAY SPIRIT FROM UNIQUELY TALL, NARROW-NECKED STILLS.
- FLAVOUR AND TEXTURE: LIGHT CITRUS AND MIXED NUT NOTES – COMPLEX AND FLAVOURSOME WHITE SPIRIT WITH EXTRA TEXTURE.
- SUPER-PREMIUM CONTEMPORARY PACKAGING.
- QUADRUPLE-DISTILLED: THE ULTIMATE PURE SPIRIT FOR PROGRESSIVE COCKTAIL MIXOLOGISTS – PURE, RARE, POT-STILL DISTILLED AND ARTISANAL, AS OPPOSED TO THE USUAL HIGH-VOLUME INDUSTRIAL COLUMN-STILL WHITE SPIRITS.
- “WHISKY” AS OUR FOREFATHERS KNEW IT.
- UNPEATED BARLEY, DISTILLED AND BOTTLED ON ISLAY.”
So, there you have it: Genius innovation or just another fancy vodka? Comments welcome.