As usual, I try to get into one of the Bruichladdich tastings at the Finest Spirits Festival (FSF). And as usual, I fear not getting a ticket. Thanks to the Whisky vicar Wolfgang Rothe I got a ticket, as he was way ahead of me at the venue and secured a spot for me. Well, he lives in Munich, I came that day directly from Vienna…

But back to the Masterclass at hand. Sometimes especially if you repeat some things too often, it gets old. But not a Masterclass with Mr Brand Ambassador Bruichladdich himself, Ewald Stromer! I promised not to quote him on anything he said so that he might be allowed to host Masterclasses in the future. But boy, he told some stories, from which I’d loved to quote, but I promised not to…

You might remember the time when Compass Box started to put the composition of their Whisky on the packaging (which was and I believe still is in violation of the SWA). Bruichladdich supported them and launched their own campaign (I wrote briefly about it here in German) of transparency. The only thing they always kept (and probably will be for life) a secret was the composition of their Black Art range. Some information though is provided by Bruichladdich. And I will share this information with you in this article.

There will be an article with tasting notes regarding the four Black Arts, but I felt that day not very well (in fact I had just one dram the whole afternoon) and also 45 to 60 minutes for even one Black Art is very, very short. If you tried one yourself, you’ll know what I am talking about, if not, ask Ewald how long he tasted his very first Black Art…

Now let’s go in medias res (you guessed it, I passed my Latin course, expect more latin quotes in the future). The story behind Black Art is, that there is basically no story. Except that Jim McEwan talked once with a journalist (not me…) who believed, that it is necessary to know everything about a Whisky that someone will buy and enjoy it (like cask type, and so on). Jim decided to prove, that it is indeed not that important. All Black Arts are bottled at cask strength, also no colour is added ever (this fact is true for *all* bottlings of Bruichladdich!).

The first one was Black Art 2.2, which was the second Black Art ever made. Did you know, that there is NO Black Art 2.1?!? Well, some of us (me included) thought that the Black Art 2 is in fact 2.1, well WRONG, it was 2.2, is 2.2 and will be 2.2! There’s no meaning in the Number behind the dot (at the moment) for Black Art (it is though for Octomore). Only know facts about that one is, it is vatted and a 1989/21yo vintage (either that or the youngest used Whisky is) and has 49,7% abv.

After that nice dram you might expect Black Art 3.1, but you’ll be wrong. This one was sold out very quickly, also because it was just a very small batch. Instead, we got the Black Art 4.1 which was the last Black Art made by Jim McEwan and the first (and obviously also his last) one he made by putting the Whisky in different casks instead of vatting different cask types at the end. It is a 1990/23yo vintage (again youngest or every Whisky) with 49,2% abv. I’ve tasted this one already but made the mistake to refer to it as Black Art 4.0. A mistake others also made (but with the 2.1; which is actually the 2.2)…

Whisky number three, the Black Art 5.1, was done by Adam Hennett. Jim allegedly gave him his recipe for his (planned) version of number 5.1 and Adam – allegedly – took it, sad “Thank you” and did his own thing. It is a 1992/24yo vintage and bottled at 48,4% abv. Also, Adam continued putting the Whisky in different casks instead of vatting them together later.

The last dram of the Masterclass was the Black Art 6.1. It is the oldest of all tasted that evening being a 1990/26yo vintage (nearly but not completely 27yo!). You may call it a Whisky, but with only 46,9% abv it is awful close to the required minimum alcohol content to be called a Whisky. But that’s what you get when you mature Whisky for a very long time! This Whisky was done also by Adam but he used the recipe he got from Jim earlier.

I hope you enjoyed this little piece of information on the Black Art Series from Bruichladdich. Watch out for my articles regarding the tasting notes of the four Black Arts as well as the new Ocomore (διαλογος). In the end, there’s just one thing left to say: If you never have been to a Masterclass of Ewald, DO IT! I mean really DO IT, NOW (or as soon as possible). If you have, well there’s nothing left to say then, all the best and