My aunt Paulette, ever the generous patron of Sublime Imbibing and Scotch enthusiast sent me on a delightful mission — pick up a Scotch I hadn’t tried for us to taste at a family reunion, and she’d pay for it. With the budget set at $100, I had an array to choose from, but not many I hadn’t tried before. But there, amidst the dusky browns and old-fashioned beiges, a bottle caught my eye — the Bruichladdich Classic Laddie, it’s sky-blue branding standing out like a beacon.

This Bruichladdich (pronounced “Bruk-ladee”, hence the Classic Laddie moniker) is a weirdo for other reasons. First — it’s an Islay that is unpeated. An unpeated Islay! Islay is literally used synonymously with a peat-forward scotch. If I said “Oh, I’ve got an Islay you’re going to love, Aunt Paulette!” it would be entirely reasonable for her to say “Sounds nice, but I’m not much for the peat monsters.” Except in the case of the Classic Laddie — because there’s no peat! It’s also distilled to the relatively unusual not-quite-cask-strength 50% ABV, and ditched the classic packaging of many Scotches to reduce their waste. I like a forward thinking brand.

I originally tasted this out of a plastic shot glass in next to a farm field (depicted below). But Paulette was generous enough to send me home with the bulk of the bottle, and I got to taste it again in more appropriate glassware. Here’s what I thought:

Bruichladdich Classic Laddie Review

Bruichladdich Classic Laddie in its distinct blue bottle

In truth, my very first impression of the Classic Laddie was kinda, well, meh. Maybe it was the word “Islay” staring at me, or the smell of distant cow manure, but I found it to be downright dull. Was I expecting there to be more pizazz because of its home island?

On subsequent tastings my appreciation for the Bruichladdich increased. It pours an incredibly light straw colour, proudly demonstrating that though it is a No Age Statement (NAS) whisky, they didn’t resort to chill-filtering or added colour to hide anything from their drinkers. I do like the way these folks do business.

On the nose there’s a whiff of hay, a touch of breadiness, a kiss of green apple and then — nothing. Well nothing that is, except the potent booze fumes — the subtlety in the rest of the nose unfortunately leaves quite a lot of room for the alcohol in the Classic Laddie to shine through.

The taste is similar, but there’s a nice backbone of saltiness (it is an Islay after all!) a touch of dried grass, and the green apple note materializes as a distinct entity. The best part is the texture, a nice and chewy, heavy body that just feels delightful on the tongue. The finish is on the short side, resolving into a caramel-esque sweetness and the tang of alcohol you’d expect from a 50% ABV scotch.

I read another review for the Bruichladdich Classic Laddie that said it’s the perfect summer scotch — and it really and truly is. Light flavours, all reminiscent of a summer afternoon, with the warmth of the alcohol mimicking the sunshine in July. But it might er on the side of too light for me. There was a je ne sais quois missing in this otherwise solid offering from a great brand. Still, whether you’re in a farm field or on your couch, the Classic Laddie is worth a slow sip or two.


Final Verdict

The Classic Laddie is light and summery despite it's 50% ABV, but might lean a little too subtle for some Scotch fans