Spring Sowing 2020


IN Barley

Lockdown life continues but we are pleased to report that the barley for Bruichladdich has been planted and is now coming up across Islay and Orkney.

Aqua ‘Growing for Bruichlddich’ signs have been dug out and reinstated on fence stobs and gates across the island. Our previously roving reporter Kate has been on the phone, e-mails, messaging and talking over walls to some of the barley farmers and Laddie team members to bring you the happy news that the barley farming is progressing well this year, regardless of current global uncertainty.

Across Dunlossit Raymond Fletcher has been very busy sowing seed at Storakaig, Cattadale and the last lot in at Kynaggary.

Concerto has been sown at all of these sites. Raymond was away to check on progress after this unusual six week dry spell and at the time of writing some rain has at last come, two days earlier than anticipated. It must have been a good rain dance…

On the east side of Loch Indaal, Cruach field pictured is turned and waiting for seeding. Farmed by Hunter Jackson of Bowmore, the field here was photographed 30th March by Raymond Tibbs from our hosting team.


The Fletchers of Persabus Farm on the north east of Islay have been growing for Bruichladdich in conjuncton with Dunlossit Estate since 2017.

Raymond, of Dunlossit, sowed 11 acres of Concerto in ‘The Big Field’ on April 17th. The field is southeast-facing and in its fourth year of cropping but it poses some challenges for tractor work and growing, due to uneven patches of historical levelling attempts by former inhabitants.

The soil is well-suited to cropping with a rich redness from the underlying limestone that might be envied elsewhere on Islay where the geology is completely different.  The farm’s rather tame flock of black-coated Hebridean sheep certainly approve of the grass there.

74 acres of Sassy barley variety was sown at Coull Farm last month by Andew Jones. Derived from Concerto x Publican, Sassy recieved approval for distilling in 2017 and was grown for the first time at Coull last year.

Andrew’s photo, with Machir Bay in the background, graced the  front cover of Farmer’s Weekly recently, championing Bruichladdich and our much respected partners who grow malting barley.

Read more on our barley exploration


Ploughing on Orkney in preparation for the ancient varietal Bere. The turned ground is an attarction to the local gulls for grubs and beasties, gold at the end of their rainbow.


Lime has been supplied from Dunlossit quarry on Islay.

While spreading at Persabus on April 16th Raymond had to battle with the wind, stopping to let the dust blow away before heading back up the field.


Shoots appearing at Octomore on 27th April. The farm sits up on the hill behind, looking down to Loch Indaal. Photograph from Joanne Boyd, our hosting and ambassador manager.


Up on Orkney John Wishart at UHI has enjoyed the good weather to practice safe social distancing from his tractor. “We had all the bere sown by the 16th of April which is a bit earlier than previous years.” Bere for Bruichladdich is being grown at The UHI and with contractors Ian Sinclair and Barrie Moar (pictured).


At Craigens, Loch Gruinart the Archibald family are testing out an 18 metre strip of no-till growing up past the woods by the farm. This practice reduces the amount of machinery passing over the land with just a seeder as opposed to the plough, leveller, seeder and rake; reducing compaction of the ground. “We’ve got the seeder so we just thought we’d try it. It’s good to try things.”. Craig hopes it will reduce soil erosion and loss of nutrients from the soil by not turning it over. While it is to be seen how it affects the crop, the lower cost benefits may balance out any lesser yield. No-till is not often practised on the west but in more climatically favourable areas on the east and down south.

“We were a little later with the sowing with the calving and the lambing this year. They come first.”

Spring waits for no man nor farmer.


Bruichladdich Distillery
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