What are we getting out of our obsession with obscure species, and absolutism about where the barley comes from? We are getting, and celebrating, differences of flavour in our whiskies.
We don’t want everything bearing the name Bruichladdich to taste the same, with its only distinction being how long it has been aged. There is more nuance, more potential breadth of flavour, to play with if barley is elevated to its rightful place as main ingredient, and if transparency about its origin is respected. No filtering, no added colouring, and the particularities can shine. We’re not saying whisky made with Islay barley “tastes better” than whisky made with barley grown in Aberdeen or grown on a different single farm; we are saying they all taste different.
Incredibly, 53% of Bruichladdich’s unpeated barley mashbill requirements for 2019 were met by the farms and farmers here in Islay. For us, what makes Islay barley special, above all, is that we know them. It’s the people.
After a warm spring which saw Donald McCormick bringing in barley from Blackrock on August 10th – the earliest ever on Islay – the 2020 harvest was completed yesterday. We’ve heard talk of thick crops and biggest tonnages. It will no doubt be a mixed picture across all the farms, but at least the barley is in. We heartily salute our growers and their families who have put in all the work through the year to bring the Islay harvest home again. We look forward to the final tally and eventual taste of 2020.