Drinks writer and blogger David Driscoll of K&L Wines and Spirits in Redwood California takes a wry look at the meaning of independence in a post called The New Regime. This is a thoughtful piece which draws a parallel between attitudes to Bruichladdiich and those indy bands from our youth that 'sold out' to major record labels in the search for commercial success. He also reviews, and understands, Islay Barley 2007, our current single farm, single field, single vintage release.
Many of you will have read about the tragic sudden death of Jeremy Salvesen in a skiing accident at the end of last week.
As many of you will know, Jeremy was a huge supporter of Bruichladdich and its team and was a very involved and enthusiastic shareholder from 2008 to the day the business was sold. Jeremy was here to help us celebrate our 10th anniversary as well many of our whisky festivals and was due to return this May.
Jeremy was a larger than life character and was always positive, with a huge smile on his face and a great friend of ours.
Some of you will remember Oli, one of his four children, that worked here for a few weeks just over a year ago.
Our thoughts are with Oli and the rest of his family.
Bruichladdich Distillery Company Limited
We were visited by Luca Venezia and friends this week who were making a mini-documentary about his interest in the concept of terroir, and how his take on it resonates with our own very different cultural and physical environment. Luca is a musician and DJ from New York who founded the dance oriented record label Trouble & Bass that operates out of Brooklyn. He works as a DJ under the stage name of "Curses!", and also leads a band called "Drop the Lime".
Luca is influenced by music from a very wide range of genres, from the bass heavy rhythms of mainstream dance to rockabilly. He has worked with a wide range of artists over the years including Little Boots and Moby. His life as a DJ takes him all over the world.
Everyone at the distillery is delighted that production has started again. The boys from Northern Fabricators have done an amazing job and the new stirring mechanism for our old open-topped cast iron mash tun is working perfectly. The first seven ton 'mash' of grist was loaded in yesterday and the resulting sweet wort has moved to the big wooden washbacks in the tun room where fermentation is well under way. It is good to see and smell and feel the distillery coming back to life - there is a welcome return to the familiar atmosphere we know so well. Distillation is expected to start in the wash stills either Sunday evening or Monday morning.
A team of engineers from Northern Fabricators in Elgin arrived at Bruichladdich yesterday with the new components for our mash tun. We ceased distillation just before Christmas 2013 so that the stirring mechanism that mixes the grist with water could be replaced. The system of gears and rakes was very old and badly worn so something had to be done.
There was simply no off-the-shelf solution available (the mash tun dates back to 1881, th year that Bruichladdich was built). We are determined to retain the existing system, so the only course of action open to us was to dissemble the machinery and ask Northern fabricators to measure it all up and make exact replicas (see story and pictures here).
Jim McEwan has become the 18th inductee into the Whisky Magazine "Hall of Fame" which is described as: "a permanent tribute honouring those noteworthy individuals who have made a lasting contribution to the world of whisky."
Writing for the magazine, whisky journalist and author Dave Broom penned the following accolade: "There are not many people who can say they have worked in every job in whisky. Then again, there’s no one quite like Jim McEwan. He started work on August 1st 1963 as an apprentice cooper at Bowmore and after working in every other area of the distillery, ended up as cellar-master and then trainee blender. In 1986 he was made distillery manager at Bowmore and began to travel the world as the distillery’s ambassador.
One of the central pillars of "Laddie" philosophy is that all of our spirit should be matured for all of its life on Islay. This point is non-negotiable. CEO Simon Coughlin reiterated it at a public meeting in Bruichladdich this week, stating that "If, for some reason we were unable to mature our spirit on Islay, we would stop distilling rather than ship it off the island."
Our Islay-centric intransigence means that some careful planning needs to be put into place to ensure that there is sufficient warehousing capacity available to meet our increased production levels. The company has already been building additional warehouses on land that it currently owns adjacent to the distillery in Bruichladdich, but, given the long term nature of maturation in the whisky industry, a permanent long term solution needs to be found.
Bruichladdich has agreed to sponsor the Islay Natural History Trust for a period of two years starting immediately. The Trust was formed in 1984 and aims "to encourage the study, documentation and enjoyment of the natural history of Islay".
Since 1992 the Trust has occupied the "Wildlife Centre" which comprises much of the ground floor of an old whisky bond in Port Charlotte owned by the Scottish Youth Hostel Association. Originally the bond formed part of the Lochindaal Distillery which closed in 1929.
A new one litre version of our new white flint glass bottle to house The Botanist, Islay Dry gin is now being introduced to Travel Retail outlets across the globe. The bespoke desgn has the Latin names of all twenty two Islay botanicals embossed into the glass and is a very stylish and presentation that radiates style. We believe it is the perfect complement to the to the quality of the liquid. A full report of the GTE roll-out can be found in The Drinks Report here.
There are many skilled people involved in keeping this traditional Victorian distillery running and work on the refurbishment of our cast iron mash tun is continuing. This ancient vessel, so fundamental to the ethos of Bruichladdich, dates back to 1881 when the distillery was built. The main contractors are Northern Fabricators who will be responsible for the final assembly on site, but most of the component parts have been cast by the traditional engineering based foundry company Archibald Young. Archibald Young are based in Kirkintilloch, East Dunbartonshire in the Central Belt of Scotland and employ 27 people including skilled moulders and core makers.