Before Australian entrepreneur David Prior bought Bladnoch, the distillery was almost like a mom and pop operation. Certainly very romantic, yet not always the optimal conditions in which to produce a quality whisky.
In the Prior age however, Bladnoch has transformed (or is trying to at least) into a luxury brand. I think it’s fair to say that no one who seriously enjoys whisky finds that a desirable development, even though it’s undeniable that Bladnoch needed an influx of cash to be saved. I guess it cuts both ways. Because without Prior, Bladnoch might very well still be closed.
Bladnoch Samsara (46.7%, OB, 2018)
Nose: Fresh and fruity orchard notes with a hint of apricot and subtle notes of grape juice, as well as honey, sultana and vanilla custard. Just a tad too much oak. Overall pretty sweet though.
Taste: Sweet and definitely plenty of wine influence, as well as a good amount of wood spices. Slightly astringent and a whiff of Earl Grey. Some fudge too, as well as apricots and honey.
Finish: Lingering tannins and sweet raspberries, as well spices. Medium in length.
It all felt a bit engineered and thrown together because of the wine cask finish that isn’t fully integrated. It’s not bad though, especially if you like your your whiskies to have been touched by ex-wine oak.