Straight from the still, at zero age, even in this nascent state before the whisky has had a chance to mature, whiskies distilled from different barley varieties are identifiable one from the other.Some of this variation is immediately obvious, even to the novice.
It is relatively easy to detect that Bere barley is different from organic barley which is in turn different from conventionally grown varieties. The differences between this latter group are much more subtle, but they are discernable with practice. An analogy with grape varieties is not exact, but it is useful.
Botanists would in any case dispute the use of the word ‘variety’ in describing types of both barley and grape – these are really all more properly described as ‘cultivars’, although, like most people, we continue to use the more familiar word.
To date, Bruichladdich has distilled spirit from 12 varieties of barley and this number will increase as we continue to explore the possibilities of this fascinating grain. Modern varieties are developed primarily to enhance their resistance to disease and improve yields, as well as taste. To us at Bruichladdich, these flavour differences are an important extra dimension both for the diversity of our maturing stocks and the complexity of our bottlings.