Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich is a distillery on the Isle of Islay, off the western coast of Scotland. The distillery produces three distinct varieties of single malt Scotch whisky: Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore. It is also the home of The Botanist gin The distillery uses 100% Scottish barley in its production. In 2012 it was bought by Rémy Cointreau in a deal worth £58million.

The whole Bruichladdich distillery area with lights on at sunset viewed from the bay
Bruichladdich distillery, Scotland

style

Bruichladdich differs from other Islay distilleries by producing unpeated spirit for the majority of the year. The Classic Laddie style is sweet, honeyed and malty.

The Port Charlotte brand is produced using heavily peated malt and has a rich, smoky character.

Octomore is super-heavily peated with intense, complex peat-smoke flavours.

Collection of various fruits
Collection of various flower heads
Jute sack containing salt
Barley grains

production

Bruichladdich retains much of its original Victorian equipment. Each part of the whisky-making process is gravity-fed and operated by the hand and eye of skilled distillery staff.

The pot stills are tall and narrow-necked in order to create a light, fruity spirit.

Since the distillery was revived in 2001, a commitment to provenance and transparency has been central to the philosophy. 100% of the barley used is grown in Scotland and individual farms are often named on the bottle. In 2004 they began working with local farmers in order to grow barley on Islay. Today, around 40% of their requirement is grown on the island. Whisky has also been produced using Organic barley and Bere, an ancient barley variety still grown in the north-east of Scotland. 

Bruichladdich is made from unpeated malt but Port Charlotte is peated to around 40pppm (phenol parts per million).

Octomore is the most heavily peated whisky in the world. Barley is smoked over a peat fire for several days in order to achieve the desired result. In 2017 barley used for the Octomore 08.3 bottling reached an unprecedented 309pppm. 

A variety of casks are used to mature the spirit. Ex-bourbon and ex-sherry casks are common and a huge variety of wine casks have been used. 

The Bruichladdich range is bottled at a minimum strength of 50% alcohol by volume. 

The Botanist gin is produced in an adapted Lomond still from the old Inverleven distillery. 22 hand-foraged local botanicals are used to flavour the gin. 


history

Bruichladdich was founded in 1881 by the Harvey brothers. John, Robert and William Harvey owned two distilleries in Glasgow but wanted to expand and built a third on Islay.

The distillery was designed to produce a light spirit that would contribute to their blended Scotch brands. Before building work could be completed however, the brothers had a disagreement and William was left to run it on his own.

After William died in 1936, Bruichladdich passed from one owner to another, for several years. In 1968 it was bought by Invergordon distillers. They in turn were taken over by Whyte & MacKay in 1991. By then the Scotch industry had fallen into decline and Bruichladdich was deemed surplus to requirements and closed in 1995.

A worker at Bruichladdich distillery moving a cask in front of cask shelves
Casks of Bruichladdich distillery

The distillery remained silent until it was bought in December 2000 by a group of investors led by Mark Reynier. Legendary master distiller Jim McEwan joined as production director and many of the original staff were rehired. A complete rebuild followed and production resumed in 2001.

A wide array of products were released and the brand gained a cult following among curious whisky drinkers.

Bruichladdich has long explored the concept of Terroir. More commonly associated with wine, Terroir is the belief that a region’s climate and soil will impact the flavour of a crop.

In 2012 Bruichladdich was purchased by Rémy Cointreau for £58million. Despite the takeover, the Progressive Hebridean Distillers remain as fiercely independent as ever.