Pronounced “brook-laddie,” Bruichladdich sits close to Port Charlotte on Islay. Apart from a break in the 1920’s and 1930’s whisky has been produced steadily until 1983 when production ceased briefly. In 1985, the future looked bleak when the distillery’s owners, Invergordon, were taken over by Whyte and Mackay who chose to focus efforts on their flagship single malts, Dalmore and Isle of Jura at the expense of Bruichladdich. Thankfully the distillery’s future is brighter since its purchase by the whisky independent Murray McDavid in December 2000. Jim McEwan and his team have breathed life back into the place, with Islay’s first bottling hall also now installed. The whisky produced by Bruichladdich was traditionally one of the least peaty of the Islay malts, although ironically it is rated as the islanders’ favourite. Since 2002, three single malts are produced at the distillery: Bruichladdich of course, but also a peaty malt, called Port Charlotte and the earth shattering Octomore – the world’s heaviest peaty whisky. From May 2003 Bruichladdich is bottled at the distillery – the only Islay whisky that is distilled, matured and bottled on the Island. All Bruichladdich is bottled un chill filtered, caramel free and at 46%. Each bottling is a cuvée created by Master Distiller Jim McEwan. From 2004 Bruichladdich will experiment a 100% organic malt, produced from organic grown barley. All the whisky production is now retained for the distillery’s own use as Bruichladdich single malt.
Straw, pine table, pale gold. The bouquet shows a malt and syrupy, honey blend. Rich creamy, buttery malted barley there. Wonderful herbal, floral notes drift across an underlying sweetness. Cherry pie. A little brine there too. Bracing coastal walks. The palate is viscous, thick and juicy, without being too oily either. Everything is balanced so well, and with an astounding texture it’s tough to pick apart when one flavour ends and another begins. So there’s the malt tang, of course, but subtle. Layer after layer of flavours begin to appear: apples, Sauvignon Blanc, a mild brie perhaps, lemons, eucalyptus honey, treacle sponge, just a gentle touch of ginger or nutmeg maybe, and the lightest touch of black pepper.