REVIEW: Bruichladdich MCMLXXXV ’85 Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky

let’s begin

Every now and then, roughly once a year, I have a full on blow out where I buy a ridiculous whisky where otherwise the price would make my eyes roll, typically this acts as a birthday present from me to me (that’s not sad is it?).

2014 sees me purchase the rather exquisite Bruichladdich DNA 1985 3rd Edition MCMLXXXV ’85 – Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky – 70cl – 50.1% ABV.

A whisky denoted as ‘ultra-rare’ according to the official notes from the distillery

The Bruichladdich DNA Series 3 is another ultra-rare Bruichladdich: MCMLXXXV is edition three in the definitive Bruichladdich DNA series, for the lucky few who get to taste it have the privilege of a glimpse into the heart and soul of this great, elegant spirit.

To say I was excited just does not capture the sense of expectation and anticipation built up by reading the words above but despite this I spent about three weeks humming and harring over whether or not I wanted to sink that much cash into one bottle of single malt.

Then I landed a new long term client contract so took it as a sign to celebrate.

Strangely there was quite a rush when the order confirmation came through, only heightened by the thrill when seeing the dispatch confirmation a mere two hours later.

Just 48 hours later it had arrived.

I actually spent the first twenty minutes or so just staring at its beauty, the simplicity of design, the quality of finish both on the bottle labelling and the outer tube’s embossing.

The use of Roman Numerals to denote the year of distillation MCMLXXXV, which happens to be my birth year hence taking such a keen interest in this whisky, pop beautifully on the iconic ‘bell’ bottle used by Bruichladdich across their core range.

Then, I opened, nosed and sipped with an apprehension fuelled by being acutely aware that in my head I’d built it up so much I just really did not want it to let me down.

The nose was confusing, a juxtaposition of orangey zest with rich, mature oak with an almost out of place sweetness that was completely unexpected.

And how did the liquid taste?

Incredible. Silky smooth with a peaty warmth that you’d not only expect from an Islay single malt. Then, almost out of nowhere, a series of unexplainable sensations and tastes intertwine together to create a truly magical flavour that will live long in the memory.

Official tasting notes


It’s amazingly smooth, superbly balanced, rich and warming. Absolutely no water should be added at any stage of consumption.


Gorgeous Copper/Golden Highlights


Multiple sensory impressions: opening with the classic Oloroso overtones of sultanas, dates, raisins, sweet barley sugar, and a hint of tangerine zest. A little later, beautiful drifts of rich vanilla and nutty nougat. Its aromatic updrafts rise on the senses, drifting higher and higher until you find the Bruichladdich DNA which had almost been lost forever. The fruitiness of soft, succulent guava, melon and pear all add to the anticipation of tasting a rare whisky. The oak mellowness gives an irresistible Spanish passion, a remarkable bouquet ending on sea breezes and wild flowers – aromas that whiskies matured on Scotland’s west coast can have.


It’s magical on the palate; the flavours lie deep in the spirit, cocooned in the shelter of the oak for over 30 years. They spread gently over the taste buds with peat fire warmth, and then without hesitation, the sherry takes the lead. The taste buds rejoice as the fusion of flavours meld into a Gaelic overture that takes us back to the golden years of distillation when a distillery was like an orchestra and all had a part to play. So enjoy the company of this rare and handsome Laddie – the last two sherry butts of 1985.


A lingering finish, so gentle and soft, as though it does not want to leave. Like it was saying “don’t forget me” and that we must listen and try our hardest to distil such beautiful spirits. It’s a great dram like this which gives us heart when times are tough; because we tasted it, and we know the best is still to come.

You can watch my YouTube review below:

Tags: Bruichladdich MCMLXXXVIslayLimited Edition
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My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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