In 1881 the demand from the booming Blended Industry allowed Barnet Harvey to found The Bruichladdich Distillery. Bruichladdich is Gaelic for ‘the brae (hillside) by the shore’. It is a suitable name since Bruichladdich lies by the shore of Loch Indaal, directly across from the town Bowmore. In 1939 the distillery was bought by a group of Americans who wished to make a typical Scottish whisky they had named ‘The Real McCoy’. The whisky was targeted at the US market, where there was great demand for spirits due to the end of the Prohibition.
The venture was unsuccessful, partly due to WW2. The distillery was sold in 1952 to a group of whisky traders from Glasgow, whom in turn sold it in 1969 to Invergordon Distillers Ltd. When JBB (Jim Beam Brands) acquired Invergordon in 1993, they mothballed Bruichladdich the very next year. With the exception of a few months in 1998 the distillery remained dormant until the turn of the century. In December 2000 three colleagues at Murray McDavid bought it together with a stock of 7 000 barrels. The new proprietors invited the legend Jim McEwan (then Brand Promoter at Bowmore) as a partner and appointed him Master Distiller. After extensive renovations, Bruichladdich re-opened in May 29 2001. Since then several official bottlings have been released. A lot of effort is put into the promotion of the ‘new Bruichladdich’ which they have named Laddie. Bruichladdich are also making two smokier versions, Port Charlotte and Octomore, which will be released in 5-10 years time. Both names come from distilleries that have been closed down for several decades.
At Bruichladdich’s website you can find details for how to buy your own cask.
Production at Bruichladdich
The new owners have laboured to maintain the Victorian equipment and the craftsmanship of the old days. They describe themselves as ‘a genuine working museum’. For example, the conveyor belt in the Mill House is from 1881 –and still in use! The barley used for most of Bruichladdich’s releases is supplied by Port Ellen Maltings. It is virtually unpeated, which is why Bruichladdich is one of the softest Islay malts you can find with a PPM of only 2-3. The Barley for the new releases Octomore and Port Charlotte is bought from Inverness. Both whiskies are heavily peated at 80.5 and 40 PPM respectively. They have six washbacks, all made from Oregon Pine. The distillery has four onion-shaped stills with unusually tall necks.
Bruichladdich choose not to chill-filter their whiskies, neither do they colour it. For storing, they use mostly bourbon casks and some sherry casks. The casks are stored in their ten on-site warehouses except for the Port Charlotte whisky which is stored in two old distillery buildings in the nearby town of Port Charlotte. As one of only three mainland distilleries, Bruichladdich also have their own bottling hall. It was opened in April 2003 and is fully automated except for labelling and packaging which is done manually.
Isle of Islay,
Argyll PA49 7UN
Phone: +44 (0) 1496-850221
Fax: +44 (0) 1496 850 477
Manager: Jim McEwan
Visitors: Ever since the complete renovation in 2001 Bruichladdich have an impressive visitor centre with guided tours and a shop. They also offer the opportunity to bottle your very own ‘Laddie’ for approx. £50.
The visitor centre is open all year round 9am-5pm, except March-October when it is open 10pm-4am. They have 2-3 daily guided tours priced at £3, which you get back when you make a purchase.
Owner: Bruichladdich Whisky Co Ltd