If you like smoky Islay Whisky, we have a surprise for you. Sure, Islay is famous for its signature peaty and smoky drams. But at Bruichladdich, they have three categories of Whisky.
1. The main nameplate "Bruichladdich" is not peated at all. It does get a tiny hint of peatiness and saltiness from the air around it, but not from the process. These Whiskies are malty and lightly sweet, and they "Bloom with a splash of water and time with the flavors of fresh herbs - almost Tequila-esque. It is often recommended by experts that you pour your Bruichladdich dram and add a teaspoon of water and then wait for 10 minutes. These guys are serious about their single malts and that's the way they say it should be done.
2. "Bruichladdich Port Charlotte" are the heavily-peated Islay style that you would expect. One whiff and there is no doubt about what you have in the glass with smoky aromas and an even fruitiness on the palate.
3."Bruichladdich Octomore" are named after the Octomore Farm that supplies the barley for this, their more heavily peated and smoky dram. Lovers of Octomore will describe it as having an almost oily consistency and the aroma of diesle fuel... and they mean this as a compliment.
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From space, the island of Islay sort of looks like and old man sitting in a chair with Loch Gorm as his eye. Well, thats what it looks like to us. The peninsula that forms the old man's chin is called the "Rhinns of Islay."
The bay formed under the chin and neck is called Loch Indaal, and Bruichladdich Distillery is on the northern shore of this bay. The word "Bruichladdich" can be translated as "rocky lee (left-hand) shore," which makes total sense when you look at a map.
The Harvey family had owned and operated distilleries in Scotland since 1770. In 1881, three brothers -- William, John, and Robert Harvey -- received an inheritance, and there was only one thing for them to do... open another distillery.
Thus Bruichladdich was born. At the time of its construction it was state of the art, from the innovative long-neck stills, to the purpose-designed layout of the buildings and docks.
Running a family business creates natural friction, but William was in charge -- more or less -- for the entire time until he passed away in 1936. The place has changed ownership several times since then. Eventually their business became "surplus to requirements," and the distillery was abandoned.
Then, in 2000, a group of Whisky-loving entrepreneurs banded together and purchased the place. They took it apart and put it all back together again, preserving all of the original, old equipment from the days of the Harvey Brothers.
To this day, the entire plant is managed by hand, the old fashioned way with no automation -- just skilled craftsmen who pour their spirit into the Whisky. In 2012, the facility was purchased by Rémy Cointreau.
A person could write and entire book about production techniques at Bruichladdich. One reason being that they have no fewer than 100 varieties of production at this time. Each having separate, nuanced techniques. The current estimated maximum production is about 1.5 million liters of new make per year.