A What-If Philosophy

We respect the past but don't live in its shadow. We believe in innovation and progress, while striving to create intriguing spirit - a spirit with flawless integrity and provenance. We are curious and restless - we never leave well enough alone. Pathfinders where angels fear to tread.

We believe that Islay whisky should have an authenticity derived from where it is distilled and where it is matured... from the philosophies of those who distil it. A sense of place, of terroir that speaks of the land, the barley, the water and the human soul  that gave it life.

There are many who would see whisky distilling as an industrial process – a means of standard manufacture and nothing more. We understand distilling to be an ancient art, one that has intrigued the human spirit for centuries. A black art, a mysterious and enigmatic alchemy, that explores the very depths of the distiller’s soul.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” – George Bernard Shaw.

Conventional whisky wisdom dictates that a distillery has one spirit, and that it then offers a few expressions of that same spirit as time allows – a 10-year-old, a 15-year-old, a 20-year-old, etc.

How dull. Hit your signature style, programme the computer, press the green button.

Romantics, restless spirits, curious minds, seekers of truth, renegades, mavericks, trouble-makers

Now, to be fair we’ve never had the luxury of this position – when we bought Bruichladdich there were huge gaps in the stock profile – a result of the rollercoaster life of the distillery under many remote owners, mothballed on whim and commercial pressure.

But beyond this pragmatic reality, the cosy, predictable, process-driven, safe commercial route was never one for us.

We are an inquisitive bunch - just because things have been done one way or another for years, is it really any better - or just habit?

“Custom without truth is but ancient error repeated.” – House of Commons records, 1641.

Romantics, restless spirits, curious minds, seekers of truth, renegades, mavericks, trouble-makers. We acknowledge all of these epithets and refuse to distinguish between them.

Is a five-year-old spirit matured in great wood better than a 20-year-old spirit in sad, tired wood (answer: “Yes!”)?

Why not try a quadruple distillation? Why not grow the Vikings’ barley? Who says it doesn’t matter where whisky is matured? What about trying to make the most heavily-peated whisky the world has ever seen, in our elegant, tall-necked stills? How can we make a gin? What happens if we infuse that gin with our own wild native Islay botanicals? Is a five-year-old spirit matured in great wood better than a 20-year-old spirit in sad, tired wood (answer: “Yes!”)?

Our predecessors – the pioneering Harvey Brothers who designed and built our distillery – were purposeful and progressive Scotsmen. Their aim was to use innovation to produce the world’s greatest spirit – and we are proud inheritors of their legacy.

Like them, our freedom stems from our independent ethos and a management structure that supports innovation.

The company is managed from the distillery – to the envy of others in the industry our chain of command is immediate: we can put our ideas in to action instantly - undiluted by time, distance, culture or competing interests.

Creativity is the natural expression of our enthusiasm, but without craftsmanship, our inspiration is no more than a reed blowing in the wind.

There are some who criticise our constant curiosity and look in bewilderment at the range of products we sometimes offer; but we are simply exploring the many opportunities and the capricious soul of distilling and maturation – of still, oak, cask and warehouse. And then, being warm-spirited and generous folk, we offer them to the world to share this incredible journey we’re embarked on – as they say, life is a journey, not a destination.

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