Barley exploration has always been a mission at Bruichladdich. Since their resurrection in 2001, the distillery has pioneered the concept of “terroir” in single malt whisky.
Bringing ideals of connection from the world of wine, they have focussed on re-connecting the liquid in the glass back to the ingredients; to the soil it was grown in, the climate it was exposed to, the varietal and how it was grown and to the all-important growers who gave it life.
Nowhere is the exploration of terroir more prominent in Bruichladdich Distillery’s back catalogue of spirits, than in their home-grown Islay barley range. In 2004, Raymond Stewart was encouraged to grow the first crop of barley destined for distillation in living memory. The distiller’s Islay barley project has developed into quite the success story since those early years. 19 farmers now grow barley across the island, allowing Bruichladdich to explore the subtle nuances of their primary ingredient in their locale while their farming partners are given the opportunity to share in the burgeoning economy associated with distilling.
This community project is showcased in liquid form in the newly released 2012 vintage of unpeated single malt. Barley grown in 2011 by eight farmers from western and central farms has been dried, malted and later distilled in 2012. The barley-forward spirit has matured in a combination of 75% first fill American whisky casks and 25% French wine casks. Warehoused at Bruichladdich on the shores of Loch Indaal for a minimum of eight years, it is a unique expression of place. Each Islay Barley vintage offers a subtle difference in flavour profile, with this 2012 edition revealing a nose of citrus fruits and coconut, leading into salty notes, charred oak, caramel and brown sugar in the finish.
“The components at work in this whisky come together to tell the story of where this whisky is from. It speaks of its place in the world with honesty and openness – Islay grown barley, Islay distillation, and Islay maturation. There’s honesty and pride at the heart of this single malt.”
– Adam Hannett, Head Distiller at Bruichladdich Distillery
Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2012 will arrive in retailers and online at Bruichladdich.com from February 2021. It has been bottled at the distillery on Islay at 50% abv and will replace the current vintage of Bruichladdich Islay Barley 2011 within the barley exploration range.