Sunday 30th May 2021 saw Laddie HQ divert from distillery and shop to live broadcasting studio, concert venue and outdoor velodrome (if there is such a thing). It was our second virtual Feis Ile and while we missed the throng of the crowds and familiar faces in our courtyard, we hope we managed to bring a bit of the Laddie joie-de-vivre to those of you watching from home.
During our six hour live broadcast, head distiller Adam Hannett had 1.5hrs dedicated to a special masterclass. He selected six drams from the warehouse to help celebrate 20 years since Bruichladdich’s resurrection. Chosen for the momentous occasion were a series of firsts:
1) Bruichladdich Organic 2003, 57.1% abv, 2nd fill bourbon cask
Our first Organic spirit was distilled in 2003 from barley grown on Mid Coul farm in Inverness. It was the first of our progressive barley types that would ignite our deep passion for the connection between agriculture and whisky. We’ve continued to distil a large proportion of organic barley ever since, and many casks of the spirit make their way into our flagship Classic Laddie spirit.
2) Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2004, 58.4% abv, 1st fill bourbon
Raymond Stewart pioneered growing malting barley for Bruichladdich in 2004. He’d inspire many more farming partners to join us in our home-grown Islay barley project, with an average of 18 farms now raising conventional crops for us. Some would even go on to grow rye, but this was the very first harvest on Islay dedicated for whisky making in almost a century.
3) Bruichladdich Bere 2009, 59.8% abv, 1st fill bourbon
Bere barley was first grown for Bruichladdich on Islay in 2005, and first grown in Orkney in 2007. This 2009 vintage is therefore not the first of either crops to be grown, but is the oldest we had in our warehouses. The six-row ancient landrace is a beautifully complex cereal, both in terms of flavour profile and its potential within academic and grain-breeding circles.
4) Bruichladdich Biodynamic 2011, 60.9% abv, 1st fill bourbon
Not only is this our first crop of biodynamic barley, we believe it is the first time biodynamic Scotch has ever been tasted outside warehouses. The exception to our 100% Scottish barley rule, this biodynamic is grown on Yatesbury Farm near Wiltshire by the Gantlett family. Original co-founder Mark Reynier originally contacted owner Richard Gantlett and convinced him to obtain biodynamic certification in order to sell us biodynamic barley which proved an easy task as he was already practicing biodynamic principles. With no known biodynamic growers known in Scotland, we’re keen to encourage the network of both farmers and distillers to grow, distil and sell more sustainable spirits in the future.
5) Bruichladdich Regional Trials 2014, 61.5% abv, 1st fill bourbon
The youngest spirit in the selection and in our Laddie Origins recipe, but certainly not to be underestimated, is the Bruichladdich Regional Trials, grown in the Black Isle of Scotland, near Inverness. The Regional Trials experiment was initiated in 2014 to distinguish flavour differences according to regionality in Scotland. This northern contingent is grown by the Jack family, while the Aberdeenshire and Lothians contingent are grown by Colin Tough and Tom Lawrie respectively. Always sowing the same variety of barley, their spirit is distilled and takes the same path from malting to distillation and maturation, meaning the final results of any flavour differences originate in their respective soils and climates. Terroir in action, this was a firm favourite of participants in our masterclass line up.
This Bruichladdich unpeated spirit has been distilled three times. While commonplace in Ireland, this practice is a rarity in Scotland. Many whisky connoisseurs will understand that triple distillation often produces a more refined but less robust spirit type. Bruichladdich contradicts this expectation with an incredibly high filling-strength into casks. This is Bruichladdich supercharged spirit, from our first foray into triple distillation.
These individual component parts are no longer for sale, but their spirit is included in our Laddie Origins recipe, which is now online via ballot process on our festival hub at community.bruichladdichdistillery.com/register
If you’re interested in more detail about any of the concepts explored above, give them a quick search on our website. Hours of reading awaits you.
If you’re interested in reading reviews of our official Feis Ile bottling, click here.
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