Well, I gloated about purchasing this some time ago. It is part of the John McDougall collection of Scotch Whiskies.
For those who don't know, Bladnoch is now one of the only 3 Lowland distilleries still in operation.
First, the specs.
Stated Age: 15 years
Bottle Number: 164 of 216
Cask Number: 3316
Proof: 111.6 (55.8% ABV)
Price: $85 in a PA Wine & Spirits store. I bought it for $70, as the Wine & Spirits stores are clearing them out of their inventory, resulting in $15 off the original price. There were 4 remaining bottles at my nearest store.
Second, my methods.
Glass: Riedel Vinum series Port Wine glass
Pour: approximately 2 ounces
Water: Aquafina. I don't care if it comes from a municipal water source-- it is very clean, and therefore, can be relied-upon not to color the taste of the spirit.
Keep in mind that I have a head cold, so the whole "nosing" thing isn't going particularly well at the moment, but I did get a few worthwhile notes.
The first scent that hit my nose was butterscotch. It was nearly as sweet and strong as the scent of DeKuyper "Butter shots" schnapps. No kidding. I also detected a faint wiff of vanilla, which is appropriate, since this whisky was probably matured in refill bourbon casks (though I can't substantiate that yet), with a solid, toasty oak. Although my nose was too stuffed-up to pick up much more than that, I do recall a faint herbal smell from an earlier tasting. I wouldn't necessarily describe it as the "grassiness" that seems to be a common distinguishing trait in Lowland whiskies, but something less earthy and more aromatic-- basil, perhaps?
The mouthfeel has a slight oilyness, but is overall remarkably-smooth, especially given the proof. While the "gravity" seems light, it has a palate-coating "roundness" that recalls heavily-sherried Highlands and Speysides, such as Aberlour, MacAllan, and Dalmore. Overall, very pleasant. Virtually no "edge" whatsoever.
The butterscotch note I described in the nose definitely carries through on the palate as well, as it seems to be the dominant flavor. Surprisingly, it is easier to taste the basil-like herbal note than simply nosing it, but, again, my head cold might have affected that. There is also a note of an earthy bitterness-- almost like a Juniper-heavy gin, such as Tanqueray Number 10. If you could turn a moderately-hopped beer into a whisky, I would imagine it would taste something like this. It is no wonder, then, that Lowland whiskies were such a big hit with the English!
I must admit that my data here is limited-- while I do not possess the keenest nose or palate, they were certainly not operating under ideal circumstances at the time of this tasting.
From what data I was able to gather, however, I would have to say that this is a very high quality whisky. John McDougall is currently the only man who has served as production manager in a distillery in each of the 5 major whisky-producing regions of Scotland, and his selection for a Lowland scotch is definitely a good one.
I was already familiar with the Lowland style through previous tastings of Glenkinchie and Auchentoshan, so I had an idea of what to expect. This particular expression of Bladnoch delivers on the Lowland promise of "light and delicate, yet full of flavor" 100%.