Islay Barley 2012
Coull, Rockside, Sunderland, Island, Mulindry, Starchmill, Cruach and Dunlossit Farms
Bruichladdich has encouraged 19 different farming partners to take on the challenge of growing malting barley on Islay. What started as an exploration of an Islay terroir has evolved into supporting a community whose industry has shifted from fishing and farming to distilling.
Where Bruichladdich has provided an opportunity to diversify, Islay’s farming community have responded with a tolerance of failure and risk. Acting as an unofficial R&D department, their experiences have shaped Bruichladdich’s understanding of barley growing on the west coast of Scotland and have inspired them to act for farming systems of the future.
Bruichladdich Islay Barley explores the influence of our island climate on the barley. Surely the conditions on this westerly rock at the edge of the Atlantic must bring something extra to the barley and expressive, floral single malt whisky? The airborne salt spray that washes the fields and warehouses must leave its mark on cask and liquid?
The challenge of growing barley on Islay is no mean feat, it is a labor of love. Between wild Atlantic storms, torrential rain and the voracious geese, it is a battle of wills and the yield returns for farmers are much lower than their mainland counterparts. However, the challenge has been accepted by local farmers who now raise barley year on year for Bruichladdich. Together, they have 16 years of harvests, growing from one farm in 2004 to 19 farms in 2020 – providing approximately 45% of the distillery’s total barley needs.
Colour – Pale straw.
Taste – The texture and mouthfeel for a young whisky is a testament to the slow careful distillation and the quality of the Islay-grown barley. Refined and complex on the palate, the sleekness carries the fruit, cereal, and oak notes in succession as the flavors develop and deepen on the palate. The distillery character – the fruit and floral style are immediate and distinctive. The creaminess and the notes of porridge and rice pudding are malty and rich with brown sugar and dry straw. The fruit notes of pear, melon, and orange wrap around toffee and fudge sweetness, combining beautifully.
Nose – Delicate, light, floral notes and a creamy vanilla with rich, floral honey rise from the glass. Kiwi, melon, coconut, and ripe pear freshness combine beautifully into a fruity citrus style to provide that zesty, sweet signature of the Islay grain and the slow trickle distillation. Breathe a little deeper and the hint of spice from the combination of French and American oak gives a little highlight to the fruit. Be lead into the wonderful depth and sweetness, by the toffee and chocolate notes from the oak. With time more dimensions of this whisky are revealed, a dry grass and crushed cereal note. Then that distinctive fresh sea salt tang.
Finish – The finish is a salty sea breeze with lingering hints of the charred oak, sweet salty caramel, and brown sugar. The melon and creamy texture settle on the palate and take you to another place.
Character – The components at work in this dram 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 Barley, Islay distillation, and Islay maturation. Honesty and pride are at the heart of this dram.