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 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. 

Notes :

On Bruichladdich Distillery

Bruichladdich Distillery is situated on the southwestern tip of the Hebridean island of Islay.

Bruichladdich Distillery crafts four different spirits:

  • Bruichladdich, unpeated Islay single malt Scotch whisky
  • Port Charlotte, heavily peated Islay single malt Scotch whisky (40PPM)
  • Octomore, the world’s most heavily peated Scotch whisky series (80+PPM)
  • The Botanist Gin, the first Islay dry gin

The distillery was first established in 1881 by the Harvey brothers. It survived through periods of closure including world wars and economic uncertainly, only to be closed for 7 years in 1994. The closure left all but two redundant.

The distillery was reopened by Mark Reynier, Simon Coughlin and Jim McEwan in 2001. The team have breathed new life into the community by keeping as much of their operations on Islay as possible. They installed a bottling hall in 2003, first grew Islay barley in 2004 (now 45% of production) and have since added additional warehousing to ensure all single malts are conceived, distilled, matured and bottled on the island. They are one of only two distilleries on the island (9 total) to make those claims.

The independently owned Bruichladdich was purchased by luxury spirits company Remy Cointreau in 2012. They continue to invest in the values of the business, in being Islay-based, and in the local community.

In 2020, Bruichladdich became one of the only distilleries in the world to be B Corp certified. They are the first gin and whisky distillery in Europe, and one of two globally, to be recognised for balancing profit and purpose.

On Islay Barley

45% of the distillery’s annual production was grown locally in 2020. The barley from a select number of individual farms were kept aside, designated to be a single farm origin. Others will be mixed to meet the minimum malting requirements at the distillery’s malting partner, Baird’s Malt, based in Inverness. The annual harvest is spread across all three single malts brands including Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore.

Islay barley takes its place within a catalogue of barley-forward spirits distilled at Bruichladdich. Exploration into the ancient landrace Bere barley, and Organically grown barley can be tasted alongside this new Islay-grown vintage in the Barley Exploration series. Spirits not yet released include the experimental Regional Trials, featuring the same varietal grown on the Scottish mainland in the Lothians, Aberdeenshire and in the Black Isle, and biodynamic barley, rye, and conventionally grown on the Scottish mainland.

Between wild, Atlantic storms, torrential rain, and migratory geese, growing Islay barley is a battle of wills. Yields are often lower than mainland-grown barley.

Generated by Feedzy