Bruichladdich Distillery (2012 visit)

Bruichladdich Distillery
Isle of Islay Argyll,
Scotland PA49 7UN
United Kingdom

Being on Islay in the spring of 2012, we visited this distillery twice. Situated on a beautiful location, we arrived there and found that they were busy having some work done at that moment for the Feis Isle. Everything a fresh coat of paint...

Normally they have the name Bruichladdich spelled out on casks with an old still in front of the distillery, but due to some storms these were being repaired. So we could not get the iconic picture for the photo books sadly. Ah well... the rest was beautiful, so no worries, lots of good things to see... We did not know what to expect, heard a lot of good stories about this distillery, and were looking forward to visiting this. Our expectations were met, and we fully fell for this lovely brand.

On the first visit we had a look around and we decided to come back for a tour, and found that just that day they had the afternoon off, and so no work was done in the distillery. It is strange walking around, and every thing is quiet. With a small group we got a quick look around, due to the afternoon off that day we could not get the long tour sadly. When back here we have to do this again, and see every thing working.

The people were very friendly and helpful. After the tour we got a fine expression to taste, and due to the short tour, we got a choice extra for tasting... Bruichladdich has some fine expressions, I have recently tasted the Black Art on a festival, just WOW! We were standing in the shop at Bruichladdich, and were looking at the Black Art, and due to the price we had to say no to it. But now, when we have tasted it, this is slowly changing. Still a lot off money for a bottle, but oh my, that was so good what we tasted...!  Something to put on the wish list and save up for. 

They have spirits which are fine, delicate, a bit spicy and a with sometimes a hint of peat in it.  But on the other side they have the heavenly peated ones like Port Charlotte and the Octomore.

When I started tasting I found my self not a fan of the peat. But as time has gone by, and I tasted more, and am developing my senses more and more, I start to like the peat a bit. Not quite there for a taste at the Octomore, but a Port Charlotte I'm starting to try. So there is hope for me still :-)

I do not know what it is with this place, it has a charme about it. The expressions are fine and delicate, but also have a strong flavour to it, I like  :-)

Bruichladdich Distillery, from 1881, has equipment from the victorian times. They have the oldest working wash still, this is 130 year old, 6 meters high, and with a diamond based shape base. Further a they have a Bobby mill, cask iron mash tuns, wooden washbacks, two wash stills, two spirit stills, a Lomond Still "Ugly Betty" for the Gin, a Victorian Still House....

The spirit stills have a capacity each of 12.274 liters and the wash stills have a capacity of 17.275 liters each. The mash tun has a capacity of 7 tons, and total of 6 washbacks....

The distillery is dated 1881, and it has changed owners from time to time. During the big depression and the 2nd world war they had to close the distillery. From 1994 it was mothballed for 7 years, and started producing again in 2001, and is still now running strong. If I understood correctly they are thinking of raising the capacity even more and more in the future. 

I understood that Bruichladdich is Gaelic for "Raised Beach". When the tide is low, and the products of the ocean are exposed on the shores, the smells of that influences the casks resting in the warehouses. It gives it a bit salty taste....

Bruichladdich Distillery does not use coloring, is always non-chillfiltered, and mostly watered down to approx. 46%. They use three water sources on the island. They use for the mashing proces the water from the Bruichladdich Loch, just two miles up the distillery. For the cooling they use the Bruichladdich Burn, flowing next to the distillery, and for the watering down and bottling they use the water from Dirty Dotty's Spring, by the Octomore farm.

I understood that they mostly use first fill American Oak Bourbon casks, from Buffalo Trace. That is about 70% of the total casks used I heard, the other 30% is French Oak, and from them is about 10% virgin oak. The barley Bruichladdich uses comes from 28 different farms, of which 16 are located on Islay.

Bruichladdich has many lovely expressions and is also blended in the Black Bottle. They run next to the "standard" spirit (sweet, elegant, marzipan) also the Botanist (gin), the Port Charlotte
and the Octomore. The Port Charlotte and the Octomore have more smoke, "earth", oily and caramel to them.

Below I listed some of their expressions, enough still to explore ;-)
When on Islay, go there! It is sure a place you should have visited, great people, location and expressions!

Classic Bruichladdich series
Bruichladdich Rocks
Bruichladdich Laddie 10
Bruichladdich Laddie16
Bruichladdich Laddie 22
Bruichladdich Classic Edition
Bruichladdich Sherry Classic
Bruichladdich 2001 Resurrection Dram
Bruichladdich 17 year old rum cask
Bruichladdich  18 year old second edition
Bruichladdich 21 year old

 Uber Provenance series
Bruichladdich  Bere Barley 2006
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2006
Bruichladdich The Organic
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2004
Bruichladdich Organic 2003

Concept series
Bruichladdich Cuvee 640 Eroica
Bruichladdich Cuvee 407 PX
Bruichladdich Cuvee 382 La Berenice
Black Art, Series 3
Black Art, Series 2
Bruichladdich Fino Sherry 1992
Bruichladdich Micro Provenance cask 198
Bruichladdich Micro Provenance cask 71
Bruichladdich 2011 Web Launch 18.06.98  Ancien Regime
Bruichladdich 2011 Web Launch 11.09.01 Renaissance
Bruichladdich X4 Perilous

Rare expressions
Bruichladdich Blacker Still
Bruichladdich Redder Still
Bruichladdich Golder Still
Bruichladdich DNA 1 36 years
Bruichladdich DNA 2 1977
Bruichladdich DNA 3 1985

Peated expressions
Port Charlotte The Peat Project
Port Charlotte 10 year old
Port Charlotte PC5
Port Charlotte PC6
Port Charlotte PC7
Port Charlotte PC8
Port Charlotte PC9
Port Charlotte PC10
Octomore 10
Octomore 5.1
Octomore 4.2
Octomore 4.1
Octomore 3
Octomore 2.2
Octomore 2
Octomore 1

The Botanist