FROM their remote Hebridean island home on Islay, the distillers at Bruichladdich are insisting on using 100 per cent Scottish barley.
Begins a spokesperson: “Bruichladdich claimed that not only does the Scottish origin of barley have an effect on the flavour of their iconic spirit – but that a whisky’s taste profile can be affected by the varieties of barley used, where it is grown, and by annual climatic variation.
“In other words, whisky from barley with genuine provenance varies much like vintages of fine wine.”
Bruichladdich started to test this theory on Islay as long ago as 2004, when a local farmer planted a small field of malting barley for the first time.
The harvest was successful and what was almost certainly the first Islay single malt ever produced from barley entirely grown on the island was eventually released.
Since that small experimental beginning, the Islay mavericks have steadily built up their maturing stocks of uber-provenance spirit.
More and more farmers have become involved and a series of five unpeated whiskies made from 100 per cent Islay barley have been released, to date.
This new release is from the 2009 season, the consolidation of harvests from eight farms growing across the breadth of Islay and distilled during 2010.
Says Adam Hannett, the young head distiller who has driven the programme forward: “It’s like a sea breeze filled with a delicate floral bouquet and hints of brown sugar and toffee on the palate. An ozone-fresh finish with zesty lemon and that note of windswept salt.”
The style is very Bruichladdich, but this new whisky is indeed subtly different to those that have gone before and an inspiration to those who care about provenance and traceability.
Concludes the spokesperson: “It is worth noting that nobody at this most progressive Hebridean distillery has ever claimed that barley from one location in Scotland is better than that grown in any other, merely that there are differences between them.
“And that these differences are interesting and stimulating for their own sake.”
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