Bruichladdich Distillery


Recently, Joanne Brown of Bruichladdich sat with the Manchester Whisky Club and guided us through the range from Islay. It got me thinking though at my surprise of never featuring the brand on this site. I’d come across Bruichladdich and Joanne at the Fishermans Retreat a few years back, and even worked alongside the brand with tastings across the UK last year, but never had I dived in a really got to know the name and liquids they produce.

So lets rectify this.

Bruichladdich was built back in 1881 by the Harvey brothers, William, John and Robert. Located on the shore of Loch Indaal, on the Rinns of Islay (the westernmost part of the island) they utilised their family history as the Harvey name had owned two Glasgow distilleries since 1770 (Yoker and Dundashill). Creating the distillery from scratch instead of the usual method of converting from old buildings, the, at the time, state-of the art design of using stone from the sea-shore and building around a spacious courtyard on a slope had its advantages and set them up for the future (the slope for example leads to gravity-fed distillation, becoming more efficient).

They commissioned two unique tall and narrow-necked pot stills, going against the usual wider stills favoured at the time. Only 5 years later, William was left to run the distillery after a disagreement with his brothers. Although he ran the company until his death in 1936, this was to be the last involvement the family had as in 1938, Joseph Hobbs, Hatim Attari and Alexander Tolmie purchased the distillery for £23 000 through the company Train & McIntyre. They themselves then sold it onto Ross & Coulter from Glasgow in 1952, who incidentally sold to A. B. Grant in 1960, then Invergordon Distillers took over eight years later. Despite the many owners, in 1975 the number of stills increased to four to keep up with the demand. This did not last long though as in 1983 it temporarily closed and soon after, Whyte & Mackay bought out Invergordon Distillers, seeing Bruichladdich distillery surplus to requirements in the January of 1995.

The brands fortunes turned around though in the new Millennium as Mark Reynier of the group Murray McDavid bought the distillery from Whyte & Mackay (then named as JBB Greater Europe) for £6.5 millon on 19th December, making sure the stock dating back to 1964 came with him. Hiring Jim McEwan of Bowmore fame, he became their Master Distiller and started Bruichladdich’s first distillation on 29th May 2001 after 5 months of dismantling the whole distillery, then reassembled with the original Victorian equipment. In September, the first bottlings from the old casks were released (10, 15 and 20 yrs) followed by the first in the Octomore range in 2002. In 2003, Bruichladdich became the only distillery on Islay to have its bottling on-site. On 23rd July 2012, Rémy Cointreau reached an agreement with Bruichladdich to buy the distillery for a sum of £58 million.

So although it started well, changed hands several times, closed, then re-opened to the point of becoming one of the main names in Scottish whisky, how does it all fare? Well below, I give to you my tasting notes –

Joanne Brown, Ambassador of Bruichladdich
Joanne Brown, Ambassador of Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie – 46%

Made with 100% Scottish barley and matured in American white oak barrels. Peat notes on the nose with hints of vanilla, citrus and citrus fruit. A softer peat flavour on the palate, with the vanilla still present alongside apples and citrus fruits. The peat smooths the dram out with a lingering finish.

Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2007 – 50%

Harvested in 2006 and distilled in 2007, the grain for this was grown for Bruichladdich in the Minister’s Field at Rockside Farm by Mark and Rohaise French.
Heather mixed with ripe fruits of pears and pineapples on the nose, with a palate full of the fruits and floral notes blending well.

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006 – 50%

Produced from crops planted in the Achaba and Achfad fields on Kynagarry farm, Islay. The fields hadn’t been used for agriculture in over a century and no chemicals were used either.
Bold citrus aromas on the nose with an oily butter note that follows to the palate. Rather thin and sharp, creating a dry spice in time for a big barley finish.

Bruichladdich Black Art 4 1990 – 49.2%
Matured using French and American oak. Fresh fruit on the nose with soft sherry and glazed cherry mixed with green apple. Rich, bold sherry with a developing sharpness upon the palate, with deep port flavours creating a very long finish with plenty of port and a natural sweetness.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley – 50%

Peated to 40ppm. Iodine, black pepper and heavy smoke dominate the nose, with a sweet, smooth and slightly warming palate of toffee and vanilla create a long-lasting finish.

Bruichladdich Octomore 06.1 5yr Scottish Barley – 57%

Peated to 167ppm. Notes of the crisp sea mixed with iodine aromas, with a little pepper and heather following. Lots of flavours on the palate – barley, oak, vanilla, pear and citrus dancing nicely. A warm finish.

Bruichladdich Octomore 06.3 Islay Barley 2009 – 64%

Peated to 258ppm. Soft dry smoke on the nose with soft peat and damp oak combining. Oily on the palate, lots of malt, with a very sharp kick of heavy peat, backed by an underlining sweetness that creates a lingering, dry finish.

Bruichladdich Cuvee 407 PX – 46%

21-year-old whisky aged in American oak and finished in Pedro Ximenez sherry casks. Deep notes of port and sherry on the nose, with a very smooth offering of vanilla. Rich sherry on the palate, with citrus notes drying out the experience to create thin yet very long finish.

Going from unpeated, to heavily peated to super heavily peated offers a cracking change in flavour profiles, and offers the world surely something for everybody. If you’re still struggling, perhaps The Botanist gin would help?

Created and produced by Bruichladdich since 2010, The Botanist is slow distilled in ‘Ugly Betty’, a Lomond Still and one of the last in existence. The distillation takes seventeen hours and involves nine classical gin aromatics with a further 22 locally picked wild Islay botanicals, including;

Bruichladdich(*) = Non Islay Botanical

Angelica root *
Apple Mint 
Birch leaves
Bog Myrtle leaves
Cassia bark *
Chamomile (sweet)
Cinnamon bark *
Coriander seed *
Creeping Thistle flowers
Elder flowers
Gorse flowers
Heather flowers
Hawthorn flowers
Juniper (prostrate) berries
Juniper berries *
Lady’s Bedstraw flowers
Lemon Balm
Lemon peel *
Liquorice root *
Meadow Sweet
Orange peel *
Orris root *
Peppermint leaves
Mugwort leaves
Red Clover flowers
Sweet Cicely leaves
Thyme leaves
Water Mint leaves
White Clover
Wood Sage leaves

In the 17 hours of distillation, the gin is distilled after an overnight maceration of the nine base botanicals – the seed, berry, bark, root and peel categories – in spirit and Islay spring water. This alcohol vapour infusion from the distillation then passes through the botanical basket containing the 22 more delicate Islay aromatic leaves and petals, effectively creating a double infusion.

The Botanist – 46%

Bold apple and mint aromas on the nose, with orange, lemon and natural honey following nicely. Soft and very smooth texture on the palate, with a warming of citrus and floral orange. Slight spice on the tip of the tongue, but a great blend of subtle flavours, with a mint finish.
So perhaps Islay’s first and only gin could be a treat for you? Whether it’s Bruichladdich using 100% barley from Islay or Scotland, or The Botanist with its fray into a variety of botanicals, I think you’ll be covered for any time of the day! Grab some bottles, crack them open and enjoy.
© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Manchester Whisky Club

Manchester Whisky ClubI’ve been a bit lax lately in posting up the last few Manchester Whisky Club meetings, but after finding a spare evening, I’ve decided to consolidate the missing drams into one, all found with tasting notes below –

March saw the theme of Photo Finish, a look at the prospect of different cask finish and maturation styles within whisky.

Deanston Virgin Oak – 46.3%

Light on the nose with a slight spice, fresh corn and plenty of wood elements. A developing spice on the palate, quite mouth-watering that produces a smooth, long finish that has a slight cherry and pepper finish.

EdradourCadenhead’s Royal Lochnagar 17yr Rum Cask Matured – 57.4%

Light with green apples flesh pineapple and plenty of dry pot still elements on the nose. A nice developing warmth on the palate, rather potent with a lingering dry spice on the tongue and finish.

BenRiach 16yr – 46%

Sauterne finish. Soft, sweet aromas of dried fruits on the nose, with bold hits of sultanas and pine coming through. A dry palate with a slow spice lingering. Fresh nuts and pine counteract for a short finish.

Tomintoul 12yr Portwood – 46%

Smooth with plenty of creamy port nose with a dry finish. Very smooth on the palate with a slight kick of port dividing the experience. Short.

Edradour 11yr ‘Straight From the Cask’ Chateauneuf Du Pape Finish – 58.5%

Soft plums on the nose with red apple with a stewed sweetness coming through. Short, rich grape and plums with a dry finish on the palate. Simple yet fantastic.

Both the Tomintoul and Edradour were stand out highlights for the Photo Finish session.

WilletAfter unfortunately missing out on April and May’s meetings, June rolled around with a The United States of Dramerica evening.

Tincup – 42%

A sweet, aromatic aroma on the nose, with a good blend of vanilla and rye. Sweet yet a sharp dose of vanilla on the palate, causing it to linger slightly. It creates a dry, spice finish. Incredible.

Willett Single Pot Still Reserve – 47%

Very smooth on the nose with a slight dry aroma of raisin and brown sugar. Plenty of rich pepper on the palate, producing a long, fresh hit of dark chocolate on a dry, wood based finish.

Noah’s Mill – 57.1%

Soft, light notes of raisins and vanilla on the nose, leading to a sharp hit of herb mixed with plenty of wood notes on the palate. Slightly burnt with the lips enjoying a tingle sensation on the finish.

Corsair Ryemageddon – 46%

A rich nose of chocolate malt with plenty of sweetness coming through. The cocoa carries onto the palate, producing a rich, mellow and well-balanced dram. A long, soft and slightly dry finish with hints of vanilla.

Balcones Brimstone – 53.1%

A hickory smoke aroma dominates the nose, reminding me of rich ribs. The richness carries onto the palate, developing quickly into a mouth-watering, savoury experience. Short though, with whispers of the hickory smoke on occasion.

The Balcones stood out as unique on the flavour palate, with the Corsair Ryemageddon and Tincup worthy of praise too.

Sullivans CoveJuly saw a line up of whiskies from across the commonwealth in conjunction with the Commonwealth Games.

Sullivan’s Cove Double Cask – 40%

Velvet aroma of chocolate and rich Cognac on the nose, with vanilla, slight spice and a warming toffee flavour producing a short finish.

Milford 15yr – 43%

A very dry nose of banana and burnt sugar. Light pear and gingerbread notes on the palate with a dry oat finish.

Pike Creek – 40%

Plenty of pear, blackberry and cranberry flavours mixing well on the nose, with a slight spice coming through near the finish. Lots of dry grain on the palate, but a smoothness of vanilla and honey bring a velvet, yet short finish with plenty of oak whispers.

Glengoyne 15yr – 43%

Plenty of heather and cream with pushes of black berry near the finish. Rather thick on the palate, with toffee, honey and nut flavours mixing in an oily mouth-feel. Lingering on the finish.

Amrut Kadhambam – 50%

Fresh spice on the nose with aromas of aniseed and cinnamon present. A good mix on the palate including raisins, orange, dark chocolate, plum and slight spice. Flavoursome finish with a long effect with plenty of oak.

It’s Scotland and Canada that are winners for me, with the Glengoyne and Pike Creek respectively.

Travel Retail Lineup
Travel Retail Lineup

Just before the summer holidays began, we held a Travel Retail evening, looking at exclusive bottlings only available airside!

Old Pulteney Noss Head – 46%

Very light with citrus elements creating a smooth, creamy and rich finish on the nose. Slight cherry bakewell aroma coming through too. Rich coconut milk flavours on the palate with a smooth, long finish and a slight kick of citrus to boot.

Jameson Select Reserve – 43%

Produced using a small batch of grain collected once a week per year from a field that is never touched thereafter. Around 10 years matured. Slightly sharp nose at the beginning but softens out with a wisp of smoke. Sweet offering on the palate with very smooth texture of toffee and lingering smoke.

Balblair 2004 – 46%

Bourbon matured. Light nose with no distinctive aromas coming through. Slight malt honey on the odd occasion. Dry orange with light, sweet hints available. A short and very dry finish.

Old Pulteney Duncansby Head – 46%

Light sherry notes on the nose with plenty of shortbread blending well. Lots of sherry characteristics on the palate too, with rich vanilla creating a toasty finish.

Balblair 1991 – 43%

Bold and fresh notes of honey and butter, with subtle cherry finding its way through. Soft green fruits on the palate creating a very dry, almost ash driven finish.

Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2006 – 50%

Bold citrus aromas on the nose with an oily butter note that follows to the palate. Rather thin and sharp, creating a dry spice in time for a big barley finish.

Highland Park Svein – 40%

Soft citrus on the nose with notes of green apple coming through. A light sweetness begins the palate, with hints of cherry and smoke before a strong finish.

Highland Park Harald – 40%

Sharp hit of citrus on the nose before malt and biscuit notes come through. Soft with a thick treacle palate creating long finish with an eventual citrus dicing at the end.

Bruichladdich is the best of a diverse bunch. Some surprising drams though, and confirms to myself at least that some brands will put anything out in travel retail, losing that ‘specialness’ so-to-speak.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog/sites author and owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.