Designed by Robert Harvey, Bruichladdich Distillery was radically avant-garde in 1881. A state-of-the-art facility that was custom-designed at a time when other distilleries on the island were developing out of cramped farmstead operations.
Since Bruichladdich’s resurrection in 2001, the ambitions have gone beyond the simple idea of making and selling single malt scotch whisky. Bruichladdich Distillery wants to be an antidote to the industry norm. Reconnecting the land and the dram, re-evaluating the prescribed ‘rules’ of the industry, questioning where flavour comes from, and understanding why agricultural ecosystems are important. This was a journey that would go on to inspire an army of distillers and drinkers across the world.
Today, Bruichladdich’s commitments to people and the planet grow stronger, ensuring the business is a force for good in the hope their actions will stimulate other entrepreneurial start-ups to emerge locally, and further afield, each one adding richness and diversity, paving the way for an increasingly dynamic and self-sufficient future.
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Using a century of distilling knowledge, the distillery was built around a spacious courtyard, on a slope to allow gravity feeding from mash to spirit house. It was well understood that the minimum intervention of pre-fermented wash the better. The fermentation and distillation are still governed by the human senses – sight, sound, and smell. There are no computers, no technicians in white coats, but over a century of combined experience in the team of artisans and faith in the equipment their predecessors installed and which still runs today. One wash still from 1881, recently renovated, may be the oldest in Scotland. Temperamental it may be, but it was designed in a gentler, slower age when distilling was more artisan than science, and the tall, long-necked stills – the antithesis of those prevailing at the time – still produce the soft, elegant, floral whisky for which Bruichladdich is rightly famous.
Bruichladdich passionately believe in terroir – in authenticity, place and provenance, and ultimate traceability. A concept most commonly associated with the wine world, terroir describes the land and the combination of natural factors – including soil, sunlight, and climate – which give wine grapes their distinct character. At Bruichladdich, terroir matters. When it comes to whisky making, beyond flavour alone, it imparts subtle nuance, complexity, and variety to the single malts. The impact of the land has a profound effect on the drinking experience. Terroir varies according to place. It differs not just at a regional level but also from farm to farm, from one field to another, from harvest to harvest, and from one vintage to the next.
Its effect will inevitably vary from plant species to plant species and from crop to crop.