Bruichladdich Distillery

Bruichladdich

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
Tansy
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.
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Fishermans Retreat Whisky Festival Review

Whyte and Mackay

The Fisherman’s Retreat, set in the Lancashire countryside near the small town of Ramsbottom, hosted a selection of fine drams one crisp Saturday a few weeks back. With a mixture of well-known names and rare editions, the entourage of myself, Manchester Whisky Club founder Andy, and fellow member Christina had been looking forward to this since it was announced. So, without further hesitation, you can dive in nose first and check out what I enjoyed on offer, and hopefully give you an insight into some of the smaller whisky festivals available these days.

The Dalmore Cigar Malt Reserve – 44%

Drawn from casks of three types: American white oak ex-bourbon casks, 30-year-old Matusalem oloroso sherry butts and premier cru Cabernet Sauvignon wine barriques. A nose of ripe sherry with a slight chocolate finish combined with vanilla aromas. A fruity, smooth palate with orange zest that creates a slightly dry ending with hints of malt and spice.

Isle of Jura Prophecy – 46%

A nose of soft peat and smoke, with dry aromas of aniseed present. Dry peat smoke hits the palate, with lots of cinnamon spice and fresh sea cracking freshness to create a long, well-balanced finish.

Fisherman’s Retreat Edition 2 – 53.8%

16yr matured in ex sherry-hogs head. Fresh green apple and banana on the nose, with flavours of fruit cake and caramelised pears creating a long, thick finish.

Scotch Malt Whisky Society 9.72 Lockets Honey and Lemon Lozenges – 62.1%

Fresh smoke aroma on the nose, with hints of summer garden berries, honey and orange.  The palate dominates with a kick of spice, before developing into a aromatic blend of honey and lemons. A sweet dram with a syrup texture that lingers on the finish.

Bruichladdich 10yr – The Laddie Ten – 46%

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%

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 23 Year Old 1990 Black Art 04.1 – 49.2%

Rich notes of honey on the nose, with a strong hit of sweet chocolate blended with cinnamon on the palate. A lingering finish of roasted fresh fruits.

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte Scottish Barley – Heavily Peated – 50%

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%

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.

Scottish Malt Whisky SocietyKilchoman 100% Islay 3rd Edition – 50%

Aromatic pears on the nose has a subtle smoke lingering soon after on the nose. Soft peat on the palate, with some flvaours of citrus lemons coming through for a long finish.

Kilchoman Machir Bay 2013 – 46%

Smoky aromas on the nose, cut by the odd aroma of citrus. Hits of sherry immediate on the palate, with the oak from the ex bourbon barrels coming through too. Rich cocoa and a spice finish create a long after-taste.

Tullibardine 228 Burgundy Finish – 43%

A blend of spice, fresh red berry and vanilla on the nose flowing onto a creamy palate. A mix of green and red fruits are present, with some orange and spice coming through on the finish.

Balblair 2002 – 46%

Floral fruits on the nose with hints of vanilla and toffee following, A good mix of spice and sweetness on the palate with orange and lemons dominating.

Balblair 1989 – 46%

Apple and raisin notes on the nose and then combines with spice flavours on the palate. A long, rich offering with raisin dominating throughout.

Balblair 1997 – 46%

Tropical fruits on the nose with apples, honey and vanilla coming through.  A hit of sweetness on the palate, but spice soon follows that creates a long, long finish.

Old Pulteney 17yr – 46%

Sweet nose of white fruit and butter with a scent of wood on the nose. Rounded hits of vanilla on the palate with the white fruit more delicate on the long finish.

Old Pulteney 21yr – 46%

A good hit of pear and apple on the nose with a little spice following nicely. Sweet on the palate with flavours of vanilla and honey making its presence. Dry finish.

Strathisla 12yr – 40%

Soft nose of floral and spice. A good malt flavour on the palate with a good hit of fruit on the long finish.

Longmorn 16yr – 48%

Fresh nose of apple and herbs. Citrus creates a rich palate combining with spice and oak which leads to a dry finish.

Aberlour 12yr – 40%

Soft red apples on the nose that flows onto the palate and blends with ginger, cinnamon and rich chocolate. Creates a warm, sweet finish that lingers.

Aberlour a’Bunadh Cask 33 – 60.9%

Lots of sherry notes on the nose hitting the senses left, right and centre, with plenty of bursts on every breath. Spicy flavours coat the palate, but its enjoyed on a silky smooth texture caused by the sherry casks.

Scapa 16yr – 40%

On the nose there’s lots of sweet honey aromas which move onto the palate and combine with ginger to create a rich and long-lasting finish.

Isle of Jura Origin 10yr – 40%

Aged in ex bourbon barrels. Fresh nose of malt with hints of peat and oak. The palate enjoys honey flavours, with some coffee and apple to create a balance. Fudge is also present, creating a smooth finish with a slight kick of spice.

Isle of Jura Superstition – 43%

Contains whiskies of 13 and 21yrs. Light on the nose with aromas of iodine mixing with smoky aromas. Again rather light on the palate, with a slight sweetness that develops with an oily texture of honey as a long nip of spice becomes apparent.

Isle of Jura 16yr (Diurachs’ Own) – 40%

Spends 14yrs in American white oak and finishes with two years in ex-Amoroso Oloroso sherry casks. Deep nose of dark chocolate and honey which carries onto the palate. A buttery texture, with flavours of apples and oranges creating a sweeter finish, with the orange sticking around on the long end.

The Macallan Amber – 40%

Soft vanilla and ginger on the nose, with a hint of barley following. Dry dates, apples and cinnamon on the palate, with the sherry notes giving off an aromatic presence. Lingers slightly.

A cracking selection of drams enjoyed, with highlights having to be the Aberlour a’Bunadh Cask 33, Balblair 1997 and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society 9.72 Lockets Honey and Lemon Lozenges. It’s always a pleasure to be introduced to the majority of the Isle of Jura expressions as well as the Bruichladdich varieties in one go, and to fill in the gaps from previous whisky festivals.

A pleasure as always.

Check out the rest of the photos via my Facebook page.

© David Marsland and Drinks Enthusiast 2013. 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.