Bruichladdich is a distillery that combines a strong sense of heritage with a forward-thinking and innovative approach. This approach is unsurprising given that the distillery was founded in 1881 and went through several ownership changes before shutting down in 1994.
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Bruichladdich has gone beyond the whisky tradition by tracing elements from origin to bottling, appreciating every growing season, the nuance of changing barley varietals, and the methods used to grow them.
Bruichladdich Whiskey’s main ingredients are barley, yeast, and water. Barley, in particular, adds a variety of flavours and textures to their final recipes. They are 100% grown in Scotland and are classified as ‘Mainland’, ‘Mainland Organic’, and from our island home of ‘Islay’
Scottish Mainland Barley is grown in the Inverness-shire region of Scotland, close to their malting partners, Bairds. However, since their mainland barley is grown in various regions within Scotland, they are still researching the effects on flavour.
Their Scottish Mainland Organic may be traced back to a single farm, which varies per year. It has a creamy, occasionally grassy flavour. The texture of the spirit is good, with a strong presence on the palate.
Occasionally, you’ll discover some casks of spirit distilled from Islay Barley in your bottle and the odd cask of Islay Barley. The flavour of Islay barley is described as citrusy, with a strong maritime influence.
Their yeast remained steady throughout their experiment. The correct balance of quality and spirit yield is achieved by mixing a fast-acting strain with a slow-acting strain.
The Water Of Life*
*A feature documentary about craftsmen and renegades who saved scotch whisky and started a single malt revolution in Scotland.
The water used in the distillation of Bruichladdich whiskies originates from three separate sources and serves three different purposes at three different stages.
The first is the water added to the grain after being soaked, stirred, and steeped in their large old cast iron mash tun. This is piped from their reservoir, ‘An Torran,’ located about a mile up the gentle hill behind the distillery.
The second is the water utilized, and a lot of it is as a coolant that runs through condensers in the still house. Although necessary for proper distillation, it is never added to the liquid and is extracted from the burn that runs past the distillery and out to sea. The hills serve as the burn’s catchment, but its flow is variable, as it is with most Scottish burns.
There is no problem when there is enough rain, but the burn can quickly reduce to a trickle when there is no rain for a week or so. Even this isn’t an issue because they can open a sluice at An Torran to supplement the flow in the burn and keep those condensers operating.
The third where they require water is in the bottling process. It must be ‘let down’ to the appropriate abv by adding water unless the whiskey is to be sold at cask strength.
Bruichladdich bottles in Islay use water from a natural spring on Octomore Farm, whereas distilleries on the mainland normally use deionized water.
This spring water has filtered down through the whiskey world’s oldest rocks, ancient gneiss formed around 1.8 billion years ago. It was formerly the village of Port Charlotte’s water supply, but it was replaced roughly fifty years ago for modernization and chemical additions.
There is something very spiritual about tasting uber-pure water directly from a natural spring.
It’s very Bruichladdich.
Up to 90% of the casks filled in Bruichladdich are ex-bourbon barrels from the USA. Vanilla, butterscotch, and tropical fruit notes are trademarks of Bruichladdich spirit matured in ex-bourbon casks.
Hogsheads & Barriques
This term is used in their recipes to refer to wine barriques. Ex-European hogsheads and barriques will give dry, peppery fruit flavours that vary slightly depending on the wine they previously held.
The ex-Oloroso and ex-Pedro Ximenex casks are often used in Classic recipes. Olorosos offer nutty, ripe fruit flavours, almost like molasses, and Pedro Ximenez offers sweet dark fruit flavours, like raisins or figs.
You can buy Bruichladdich whiskey on Whisky.my as it is available at a 10% to 25% discount depending on the type of whiskey you buy. Buy now!