Bruichladdich Distillery


History: Bruichladdich Distillery was built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers on the shores of Loch Indaal, on the Rhinns of Islay, the westernmost part of the island. The forward-thinking Harveys built a “state-of the-art” facility compared to the island's more traditional distilleries. In 2000, after more than 100 years and several owners, it was bought by a group of private investors led by Mark Reynier. Jim McEwan, who had worked at Bowmore Distillery since the age of 15, was hired as master distiller and production director. Much of the original equipment was restored, and a new and exciting Scotch whisky brand was created. When the distillery was sold to French spirit company Rémy Cointreau 12 years later, the ethos and many of the original staff remained.

The whisky: When the brand's single malt, The Classic Laddie, was first launched in a vivid aqua-coloured bottle, you could hear the traditionalists screaming in terror. But the liquid inside was outstanding, so it quickly started winning awards and building up a loyal following. As well as the Bruichladdich range, the distillery produces Port Charlotte single malt, which is on the peated (smoky) spectrum. If you are a “peat freak” then it may be worth investing in the company's Octomore bottlings. Botanist Gin, which is also made here, has became as popular as the whisky.

Favourite tipple: It's a tough choice. I have always admired Bruichladdich's experimental nature. Within their whisky range, you will always find something to suit any mood or occasion. If pressed, I would go for the Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2008, which is made with 100% Bere barley grown on Dunlossit Estate, Islay in 2007. It's an un-peated single malt with fresh fruits such as green apples and ripe pears in its flavour profile.

Why visit? Being a whisky fan always enhances any visit to Islay, but this is a stunning part of Scotland to visit regardless of your spirit choice. There's a great range of tours offering a close look at the production methods and a chance to taste the amazing whiskies. It's worthwhile booking ahead as this is a busy distillery.

Interesting fact: Bruichladdich's most experimental brand, Octomore, takes its name from a farm located on the hillside above Port Charlotte village. It was created by Jim McEwan in 2002 as a "super heavily peated" variety that's almost three times as smoky as any other peated whisky on the island. You may think this was done as a PR stunt but the whisky itself has won several awards for its amazing flavour and aroma.

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