In the world of fine wine, terroir is a concept that reflects the influence of soil, sub-soil, exposure, orientation, climate and micro-climate on the grape harvest. The great vineyards revere terroir for the subtle nuances of traceable character, flavour, lineage and integrity it bestows.
The effect of terroir varies not just at a regional level but also from farm to farm and from harvest to harvest.At Bruichladdich, we believe terroir matters. We believe it imparts subtle nuance and variety to sensory experience. It will have an effect on any food or drink. The more complex the flavours, the more profound that effect. Single malt Scotch whisky is the most flavour complex spirit in the world.
Industrial producers of both whisky and wine would rather their ‘consumers’ concentrated on image rather than addressing more challenging concepts such as terroir. Our work with Bere, which we present as individual vintages, is an example of our barley exploration series. As with a fine wine, each vintage is a vehicle for change. There were major differences in growing conditions on Orkney in the lead up to the harvest of 2008 when compared to the harvest of 2007 which produced our previous release.
Our graphs show how the key growing month of June 2008 saw four times as much rainfall as the previous year, even though average temperatures and sunshine hours were similar. This was followed by three months that were relatively dry with higher temperatures and longer hours of sunshine. When a crop experiences major changes in weather patterns from year to year it is not unreasonable to expect there to be differences in the characteristics of the spirit distilled from it. At Bruichladdich we choose to celebrate those differences. Each vintage is limited, finite, unique. It can never be repeated.