“I nearly did a somersault when I tasted it,” says Jay Doherty of the valinch cask that bears his name, an Oloroso butt, from which visitors to the Laddieshop can fill their bottles.
Jay grew up in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, on the Racecourse Road. He worked as a slater, including on the London School of Economics building at Butlers Wharf beside Tower bridge, before following his fiancee, Mairi, to Islay. His first taste of Bruichladdich was a bottle of 12 year old that he won in a golf tournament; he is still a keen golfer and captains the island’s golf club.
Once on Islay, Jay worked with local hauliers, Mundells, who bring in all the glassware and bottling hall supplies and take our finished products off the island. In that role, his approach to deliveries was characteristically fun-loving and personable, for instance contriving to hide a pool table that was a surprise present. By the time he started in the warehouses at Bruichladdich in April 2011, “I’d supplied the distillery, this was my run, so I knew everybody, they accepted me as one of their own.”
Of working in the warehouses, he says, “You need to be a wee bit tougher than most, I suppose. But it’s good, we like to call it our gym. It gives you a good workout, and we don’t have to pay for it.”
Besides that, he says the volume and “iconic” class of casks that we work with here surprised him, particularly the stocks from very famous chateaux. “You learn what makes a good whisky, it’s not just pouring a whisky into a vat, it’s not like that; it’s that whiskies are blended, crafted, you know. I like working with the casks, they all have different personalities and different flavours and different aromas. When you vat something, you`re not only seeing the colours coming out of the cask, you`re getting the aromas as well, it`s a beautiful thing!”
Jay’s valinch cask is number R09/190-003, a sherry butt, aged 14 years, alc 60.6% vol. Available from the Laddieshop while stocks last.