8.3 (188)
Year opened:
Isle of Islay, Scotland, PA49 7UN
Bruichladdich Distillery website
Water source:
Spring at Octomore farm

The story of Bruichladdich Distillery


Pronounced ‘brook-laddie’ referring to a raised beach upon which the distillery sits. Islay ‘eye-lah’ meaning ‘Yula’s Isle’ possibly a Viking princess. Located on the Rinns peninsular - once part of the Peruvian coast of Arequipa - at 1800 million years they are the oldest rocks (Gneiss) of any distillery in Scotland. Built 1881 on Loch Indaal as a state-of-the-art distillery by The Harvey Brothers of the whisky dynasty family. It has remained unchanged ever since. Capacity doubled in 1960 to 1m litres (closure of own maltings), and again in 1975 (two extra stills) to 1.5m litres – but there was not enough water. From 1992 to 1994 rapid succession of corporate owners (Invergordon, Whyte & MacKay, Jim Beam and Fortune Brands) Closed down in 1994 – ‘surplus to requirements’ apart from a brief period in 1998 it lay silent until May 2001.

The Acquisition

Buildings and stocks bought for £6.5 million on 19th December 2000 by private investor group led by former wine merchant Mark Reynier (a convert since 1985) Now a private, Scottish company with shareholder base of 45 private individuals, including Islay landowners. Chairman: Sir John Mactaggart. 1.4M litres of maturing stocks date back to 1964 with all stocks distilled & matured on Islay. A further £1m worth of stock repurchased from industry third party.

The Company Philosophy

Authenticity, Purity and Individuality. The Malt Crusaders: fiercely independent, non-conformist, innovative - the enfant terrible of the industry.

Islay People

The Management Team are Andrew Gray (Sales Director) Jim McEwan (Production Director), Simon Coughlin (Operations Director) and Mark Reynier (CEO). 47 Islay people are employed, including 5 disabled people. Engineer Duncan McGillivray is Distillery Manager. The company is entirely operated and managed from Islay, with all company functions based at the distillery itself. Jim McEwan, proud Ileach and three times winner of the Distiller of the Year is Production Director after 37 years at Bowmore.

Top Quality Raw Ingredients

Barley is exclusively Scottish and increasingly Organic from 12 individual farms for greater variety, originality, and spirit characteristics. Islay-grown barley has been used since 2004, and for the first time Bere Barley for 2005 – the original variety introduced by the Vikings in 8th century. Water is drawn from three different sources the Bruichladdich loch (mashing) the Bruichladdich burn (condensing) the Octomore spring (bottling).

Traditional Distilling

No Computers are used in the production of our whisky. The original Victorian machinery, painstakingly restored over six months, is still used. Bruichladdich officially re-opened on Sunday May 29th 2001 - the first spirit ran at 08.26. Since all spirit is retained (none being used for blending) a minimum of 700,000 litres are distilled annually, by slow trickle distillation. Tall, very narrow-necked stills produce ultra-refined, elegant, floral spirit – the hallmark of the Bruichladdich style. Renewable Energy - wave-generated electricity used from the Limpet platform at Portnahaven, Islay.

The Purest Spirit

Three different peat levels are distilled: Bruichladdich 5ppm, ‘Port Charlotte’ 40ppm, and ‘Octomore’ - the world’s heaviest peated whisky at over 80 ppm. Several versions of Bruichladdich are distilled with specific characteristics obtained from unique barley origins (terroir) such as Kentraw, Culblair, Culmore farms etc. The House Style is subtle, elegant, fruity spirit, of unique purity. A harmony and balance that makes it The Sophisticated Islay Malt – ideal for wine drinkers. Recognised as the purest whisky in Scotland in the 2005 Malt Whisky Companion.

Islay Maturation

Cask Type: premium cask selection, various wood types: Port, Madeira, Sherry, Rum. Undiluted cask filling @ 71% vol. into Bourbon casks from Buffalo Trace. Atlantic Freshness - casks are matured in our Islay warehouses and are influenced by the ocean and the marine atmosphere. The bottling hall on Islay, built in 2003, makes Bruichladdich the only Islay bottled whisky, the true authentic Appellation Islay Controllée whisky. Uniquely, Islay Spring Water used for reduction from cask strength to 46% bottling strength (15% more alcohol than usual). All whiskies are naturally bottled, colouring-free. 100% original colour, nothing added to artificially sweeten, darken or standardize the whisky. No chill-filtration means more complex flavours, increased bouquet and richness are obtained by leaving natural occurring aromatic proteins and oils in the whisky. Modern Presentation simple, fresh design featuring Islay seascape colours – Aquamarine, Navy & white. Heavy ‘decanter-type’ bottle, with distinct labels for different ages, packaged in metal tins.

The Flavour Profile

The bouquet has a mind-blowing degree of complexity with multi-layers of aromas including citrus fruit, and wave after wave of Atlantic freshness, ozone and sea-salt. The texture shows a surprising breadth, depth, & length of clean, creamy- textured, purity, with enormous ‘mouth feel’ richness. The flavours range from citrus fruit to sun-dried raisins; wild Myrtle to butterscotch; heather to berry fruit; ozone sea spray to vanilla Bruichladdich can never be clumsy, ‘wham-bam’, heavy, medicinal, iodine, oily, ‘dirty’ or artificially sweet malt.

The Whisky

All bottlings are the inspiration of Master Distiller Jim McEwan, an islander and three times winner of the Distiller of the Year, with over 40 years’ experience. Four different categories have been carefully created for increased variety, specific moods, occasions or time of day. Each has its own individual character and style.

  • Mood Malts The 10 (Aperitif), 12 & Fifteen (Contemplative), XVII (Digestive), and Twenty (Reflective). Vintage Malts are occasional released from time to time: 1970, 1984, 1973, while ‘Full Strength’ a cask strength bottling is a regular vintage bottling.
  • Multi-Vintage Malts are imaginatively assembled from the best attributes of several different vintages and cask types ?‘3D’ (peaty); ‘Rocks’ , ‘Waves’ & ‘Infinity’
  • Special bottlings include limited edition ‘Links’ (golf course images), ‘Legacy’ (the oldest Bruichladdich), and ‘Valinch’ (Single casks available only at distillery).
  • Murray McDavid Range: natural bottlings of other distilleries’ whisky: Benchmark (classic bottlings); ‘Maverick’ (cask refinement); ‘Mission’ (older bottlings); ‘Celtic Heartlands’ (the rarest)
  • The Wine Drinker’s Dram, as like the finest wines it is subtle, harmonious, and complex. If you are a wine drinker – this is the malt for you.
Source: Bruichladdich