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.
Luminous golden yellow in colour. An elegant bouquet. Sweet yellow fruits, drizzled with honey and crushed almonds, intertwine wonderfully with freshly picked summer flowers; together they rise serenely on the first pass. It’s a beautiful experience. Then, with a little aeration, it’s custard cream and toasted barley, banana bread and vanilla fudge. Marzipan continues to rise, now mingling with a citric twist created by the big sleep beside the Atlantic ocean. The final notes are of the malt and oak, evolving together over 22 years, with the aromatics hinting at the natural beauty of this special place called Islay. At first you feel the power of the spirit. Its taste spectrum is intriguing, with flavours coming together like the threads of a fine tweed. The harmonious aromatics have merged superbly to give a mouth-feel that is the absolute single malt taste experience. The vanilla oak and lemon and honey lead on the first sips, with the soft, yogurt-like fruit flavours a heartbeat behind. Then it’s that brilliant Abernethy Biscuit, a vanilla wafer, and then sparkling like a firecracker all around the taste buds comes that marine citrus meringue flavour. The palate is experiencing an all-time high. There is no terminal, no finish. This will remain with you long after the bottle has gone.