There are many attributes we share with our distant Gaelic forefathers: stubborn, resolute, self-sufficient, tough, hard-working, enduring, straight-talking, emotional, passionate, philosophical and engaging… perhaps with a certain roguish quality.
We are proudly non-conformist, as has always been the way in these Western Isles – Oirthir Gaidheal, the Coast of the Gaels, the land of the outsider.
At Bruichladdich, we believe the whisky industry has been stifled by industrialisation and self-interest – huge organisations have developed that require a stable status quo to ensure that their industrial processes can run to maximum efficiency, producing the maximum “product” with the minimum input and variation, all to the lowest unit price.
We reject this.
We believe that whisky should have character; an authenticity derived from where it is distilled and the philosophies of those who distil it – a sense of place, of terroir that speaks of the land, of the raw ingredients from which it was made.
We believe in variety, in chance, in progress, in irrationality, in a stubborn refusal to accept prescribed “process”; we believe in following the distilling Muse wherever it might take us. Above all we believe the world needs an antidote to homogeneity and blandness. Since our first spirit ran from our unique, Victorian stills on 11.09.01 we have been on an adventure – sometimes a white-knuckle ride, but a journey that has seldom been dull, often a challenge, throughout a joy and a thrill.
There was a time, now long gone, when distilling was an uncomplicated affair. An art, certainly, but not an enterprise where craft was subordinated to spin, and where concerns of “global consumer profiling” and market research took pre-eminence over thoughts of land, season and harvest. We believe the spirit has lost touch with the land, with the farmers who supply its raw product, and with a sense of place and provenance. At the time of writing, 50% of our barley is sourced from organic farms – ultimately our aim is for that to be 100% (and while most other distillers don’t seem to feel the need, our barley is 100% SCOTTISH barley – how could it be any other way?). In 2010 we released the first spirit to be made from Islay Barley
, perhaps the first for 50 years. We believe our spirit should speak of where it comes from and where it matured – Bruichladdich
is the only major distiller to distil, mature and bottle all its whisky on Islay. Extraordinary to think it could be any other way, isn’t it?
There has been a tendency to see organic farming as either a lifestyle statement or a luxury, or both. It is nothing of the sort. Organic farming is the way all farming used to be before the industrial revolution and the mass migration of population into towns and cities. The distiller would buy his grain in the morning from the farmer he would drink with in the evening. And that farmer would know every inch of his land and the meaning of every cloud in the sky. On Islay he would collect kelp from the beach for fertiliser and pray the volatile Atlantic weather systems would keep the rain off his harvest.
We passionately pursue a return to these simpler times – to authenticity, place and provenance, to ultimate traceability. We seek to produce the most natural, thought-provoking, intellectually stimulating & enjoyable spirit possible. Obesessive? Probably – but if all you want is a whisky, the world is awash with the stuff!
Our water comes from farmer and friend James Brown’s Octomore
farm up on the hill behind our Port Charlotte
warehouse; our Islay barley is dried in the sheds of the Wood brothers, Andrew and Neil, up the road at Octofad farm. We believe in community.
Lastly, and with respect for this glorious past of which we’ve spoken, we believe in innovation and progress, with constantly striving to produce a more characterful spirit, one with more integrity and provenance, one that is more expressive of this wonderful island we are lucky to live on. A spirit to put a smile on your face wherever you are, and to help you close your eyes and quietly dream of Islay.
We are progressive, Hebridean distillers.