Does barley variety affect the whisky flavour?


Does barley variety affect the whisky flavour? In an article published on the influential website ex-Diageo man Vic Cameron gives an unequivocal “no”. Vic argues that “barley variety has little or no effect on new make spirit character“.

We respect Vic’s opinion, but disagree.

Followers of Bruichladdich will appreciate that this assertion runs directly counter to our beliefs, and our head distiller Adam Hannett is extensively quoted in a new editorial piece published today (11th August 2016) saying: “We are… left in no doubt that the character of spirit produced varies with both barley variety and terroir.’

The two articles illustrate the significant differences in approach and aspiration between Bruichladdich and Diageo with regard to the creation of single malt whiskies. While Vic supports the Diageo production methodology that results in his favourite dram being “the same year in, year out”, Adam claims that variety is something to be celebrated.  Bruichladdich warehouses are full of maturing spirit derived from different barley varieties and provenance. Adam says that he is confident “whisky enthusiasts prepared to embrace subtle variation will find them interesting in the years to come”.

Check out the articles via the links above for illuminating insights into “one of Scotch whisky’s most contentious questions”. is edited by Richard Woodard, Becky Paskin and Dave Broom.

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