All our Islay whisky is matured on Islay, the majority kept at Bruichladdich itself, or in warehouses two miles further down the Rhinns coast at the village of Port Charlotte.
We believe that Bruichladdich benefits from maturing in such a volatile climate. But it was never intentional.
The distillery was built at Bruichladdich for its water and access for back in 1881, little Islay whisky was matured on the island, most, in keeping with other distillers, was warehoused more conveniently in Glasgow.
Bruichladdich is located on the western side of the island on the shores of Loch Indaal. it is completely exposed to the full force of Atlantic storms, particularly the prevailing winds of the south west. Blasted by hurricane force winds, the vapourised, salt-laden, sea-spray permeates the very fabric of the distillery. Windows and car windscreens are covered in a layer of salt, glass-less warehouse windows allow free circulation of marine air.
Vaporised salt molecules are smaller than the grain of oak. Salty, marine-enriched air oxygenates the spirit as the casks ‘breath’ day in, day out, over decades, while the barrel’s metal bands are corroded by rust. Salt corrosion is a big problem at Bruichladdich.
But it’s not just the salt. Seaweed and shorelines play their part in making the fresh smell of the seashore.
The mystery was unlocked by Professor Andrew Johnston, Professor of Biology at East Anglia University, who has isolated the gene responsible.