Bold of purpose, clear of mind and exceptional at their craft, Bruichladdich has always fashioned itself a freethinking, rebellious spirit within the art of creating Scotch. Toeing the line of tradition may not be in this distillery’s DNA, but they pay tribute to the craft in their own unique way.
The original Bruichladdich distillery was built in 1881, but the history that really matters is far more recent. Storming onto the scene around the turn of the millennium, they made it clear from the get-go that they danced to the beat of a different drummer: Master Distiller and production director, Jim McEwan.
Long familiar with Islay’s reputation, given his long-standing career at Bowmore, McEwan had different ideas about what sort of whisky his distillery would produce. The assumption that every Islay whisky is going to play some variation on peatiness? The launch of The Classic Laddie established Bruichladdich’s signature taste as entirely unpeated. Add unmistakable packaging in an aquamarine bottle emblazoned with white knockout letters and clearly something very different had arrived on these shores.
This wasn’t about bucking tradition or thumbing their nose at customs. McEwan and his cohorts simply wanted to celebrate the best of local ingredients and the time-honoured processes. The overarching goal at Bruichladdich has always been to pay proper tribute to the artisanal heart of the craft, and capture the very essence of the ingredients’ links to the land. The Bruichladdich website even refers to showing their followers “the intimate connection between place and time, man, history and land.” And in that, Bruichladdich is something of a throwback – a reminder of what really should matter.
Successive releases have proven it to be more than capable of capturing the peaty heart and pure untamed wilds of this windswept isle. The Port Charlotte is a heavily peated option while the Octomore plumbs the deepest depths of peatiness with its full-scale offensive on the taste buds. And now they are dipping their talents into creating a celebrated gin, The Botanist.
The distillery is now owned by beverage giant Rémy Cointreau, who is wise enough to let Bruichladdich continue to forge its own unique path. They remain the self-styled progressive, Hebridean distillers whose only aim is to create a portfolio of whiskies that are statements of purity, integrity and provenance.
Read on to learn about Royal Brackla.