Scotch Whisky can be confusing. If you’re new to it, trying to pick a whisky is like figuring out which estranged friend to talk to at that terrifying school reunion.
Bruichladdich, fortunately, is one Scotch that is easy to love. For many years Bruichladdich was known as the malt which the locals drank, something which surprised many visitors as it was unpeated. Bruichladdich’s character is sweet, honeyed and floral with a lemon-butter note and an unmistakable freshness. Since 2000 however other variants have been made – medium-peated Port Charlotte and the heavily-peated Octomore. While both are defiantly smoky with plenty of rich bonfire-like aromas, the inherent freshness and acidity of the distillery character is retained.
With Bruichladdich now available in South Africa, here are 5 things you should know about this popular Scotch whisky.
The distillery has an annual output of about 1.5 million litres of pure alcohol
The water for the whisky comes from the Bruichladdich loch and the Octomore spring. The distillery has recently increased its number of stills to five, by purchasing a Lomond still.
The Scotch collection consists of three brands
The first is the normal Bruichladdich as we know it. The second is the Port Charlotte and the third is the Octomore – a very heavily peated single malt Scotch whisky. It has a phenol content up to 258 ppm and is considered to be the most heavily peated single malt whisky in the world.
Bruichladdich means “corner of the beach”
Bruichladdich is usually translated rather poetically as ‘brae by the shore’, but this is a rather vague concept in the context of Loch Indaal and its environs. Bruichladdich – Brudhach a Chladdaich – is made from two Gaelic words. According to Dwelly’s 1901 dictionary, Brudhach has a meaning that ranges in steepness from ‘an ascent’, hill-side, brae (derived from the Old Norse, breiðr (meaning ‘a gentle slope to the sea’), to a steep acclivity, and precipice.
All the whiskies are distilled from organic barley
For many whisky producers, barley is merely a commodity product but for Bruichladdich, it is a living and fundamental expression of the land in which it’s grown. The organically grown barley is free from artificial stimulants and dependency on pharmaceuticals. Whisky distilled from organically grown barley just seems to have more definition, purity and intensity.
The distillery also makes a gin
Although the distillery produces mainly single malt Scotch whisky, it also distils artisanal gin from an interesting range of botanicals. The Botanist Gin is one of two gins made on Islay and is distinctive for its addition to the nine customary gin aromatics of a further 22 locally picked wild Islay botanicals. It is these botanicals – and the two local botanists who collect them – that give the product its name.