Record Islay Barley Harvest in 2014

We are delighted to announce that 2014 has seen a record tonnage of malting barley harvested for Bruichladdich on Islay. A grand total of 1,295 tonnes has been gathered in and delivered to the dryihng sheds at Octofad on the Rhinns. This represents a remarkable increase of 39% over the total achieved last year.

The number of farmers growing for us has steadily increased since the first pioneering crop was sown at Kentraw in 2004. The combination of a greater acreage planted this year plus excellent weather during the growing and harvesting season has produced these very encouraging results. We cannot over-emphasize how grateful we are for the efforts of everyone involved in what will always be a high-risk business – a sort of agricultural white-knuckle ride.

This is an on-going learning process, a fascinating evaluation of the effects of terroir on our spirit. Just as vineyards treat their different grape varieties separately, allowing subtle control over the style of wine they prooduce, we do the same with our barley. For over a decade we have been trying different combinations and permutations of farm, field and barley type as we endeavour to find out more about the nuances inherent in the world's most flavour-complex spirit.

2014 has seen 12 farms 'Growing for Bruichladdich'. The harvest from Octomore, Sunderland, Island and Rockside Farms will each be handled and distilled separately. The smaller tonnages brought in by the farms at Coull, Eorrabus, Mulindry, Dunlosssit, Cruach, Gartbreck and Craigens will be combined.

All the farmers planted the barley variety 'Concerto' in 2014 with the exception of Ian McKerrell of Island who planted 'Propino'. The analogy with grape varieties is a powerful one and it will be fascinating to evaluate the differences between the two in the years to come. Particularly in the context of our on-going work with organic barley from the Scottish mainland and Bere barley from Orkney.

Our warehouses are full of the most fascinating spirit, all of which is maturing in our warehouses on the Rhinns of Islay. They represent a celebration of craftsmanship, of meticulous attention to detail. We can forward to an exciting future of continuing to expand our range of the most thought provoking whiskies in the world.

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