The latest approach taken by the Bruichladdich distillery allows whiskey connoisseurs to trace the origins and discover the flavors of their whiskey
By: Prateeksha Guruji
Posted on: January 14, 2021
If there is one thing that gets us Indians through the toughest of times in our lives, it is a glass of good whiskey. Whether it is an after-work drink with colleagues or a full-blown house party, whiskey bottles are easily the most important guests. However, very few whiskey lovers love it enough to know how their whiskey is made.
We are all living in a world that is brand conscious, and that is applicable to our spirits as well. In fact, when it comes to liquor and spirits, we go one step forward and get very picky about how we like our drinks - neat, on the rocks or with a soda. But rarely do we know the minute details - the flavors, packaging, origins. As much as I myself have loved whiskey and tried my fair share of variants and brands in the last five years, it was thanks to Bruichladdich that I have felt the need to explore the nitty-gritty of whiskey making, for the first time.
Bruichladdich Distillery is decidedly one of the first global distilleries to adopt a new approach with respect to sharing information about its whiskies. The law and regulations do not allow distilleries to put details on the bottle, however, Bruichladdich wants whiskey lovers to become informed whiskey lovers.
Based in Scotland’s Rhinns of Islay, the distillery is owned by Remy Cointreau and is primarily known for its single malt scotch whiskey as well as artisanal gin - The Botanist. Dating back to 1881, the distillery’s traditional whiskey making process involves using its rare original Victorian equipment. Bruichladdich single malt whiskey has three variants - the Classic Laddie, Port Charlotte and Octomore. A brand that moves around subtly among ‘those who know’, Bruichladdich enjoys the reputation of being a whiskey that a few, seasoned connoisseurs truly understand.
For their new approach ‘No Hidden Measures’, the Scottish distillery has ventured away from the conventional approach of many distillers whose objective is to have a consistency in their flagship bottle. Bruichladdich has now broken down the recipe of its Classic Laddie into every component - from barley provenance, cask and ageing. “We believe that you have the right to know what’s in your glass, and to understand where that flavour comes from. Each batch, though subtly different, must demonstrate our classic floral and elegant Bruichladdich style,” shares Adam Hannett, Head Distiller.
The Classic Laddie: Quintessentially Scottish
The Classic Laddie by Bruichladdich is an unpeated, single malt scotch whiskey made from three different types of barley, all grown 100% in Scotland. The distillery currently grows over 40% of all the barley for their whiskies on the island, aiming to increase this percentage year by year in line with their sustainability efforts and B-Corp ranking. While every bottle will be made in the classic, floral and elegant Bruichladdich style, every batch will be discerningly distinct from the other, given the variety and provenance of the barley and also the casks.
What’s Inside The Classic Laddie?
The Scottish Mainland Barley lends the whiskey a creamy, grassy zest while the Islay Barley, with its nautical Atlantic undertones, gives it a citrusy tang - a signature flavor for the Classic Laddie that it owes to the salty air of the Hebridean islands. The refreshing bursts of flavor that come from the barley range from fruity to minty, while notes of honey and tangerine pop up as one settles more into the whiskey.
Unlike the traditional, transparent whiskey bottles which will allow you to see the color of the whiskey, the Classic Laddie comes in a striking turquoise blue opaque bottle. Since Bruichladdich believes in the uniqueness of each batch, there is a sense of mystery due to the non-transparent bottle till the moment it is actually poured into the glass.
Authentic to the core, the whiskey is not chill-filtered (stripped of its natural oils) and there is no amount of artificial coloring added. The sunshine-esque yellow, golden tinge of the whiskey comes entirely from its oak cask.
The No-Age Single Malt
Bruichladdich’s oak casks come from different parts of the world and thanks to the ‘No Hidden Measures’, you can find out their origin, the type of alcohol they previously held, their size and the number of times they have been used.
When it comes to ageing, the most common notion among single malt whisky connoisseurs is “the older, the better.” With Bruichladdich flagship bottlings, they either opt to state the youngest age on the bottle or refrain completely from stating the age. “Considering age alone over-simplifies the complexity of our recipes. We prefer not to undermine the interplay between maturation time, cask type and the influence of our raw ingredients,” explains Mr. Hannett.
The Virtual Whiskey Tasting
This approach was communicated in India by Ms. Cailtin Hill, the Niche Brand Ambassador of Remy Cointreau, through a virtual whiskey tasting of The Classic Laddie. Ms. Hill, an awardee of the Brand Ambassador of the Year (2018) with B.A.R – Bartender & Accolade Recognition Awards in South Africa, shared her experiences with the Bruichladdich distillery through a virtual whiskey tasting session with prominent members from various fields in India. The interactive session was excellently headed by Ms. Hill as she shared her deep-rooted passion and knowledge of spirits along with Bruichladdich’s whiskey making process.
Different in every aspect right from taste to packaging than the traditional Indian single malt whiskeys, interesting perspectives were brought on topics such as cocktails that can be concocted with the Classic Laddie and food pairings. Since the whiskey has a strong citrusy base, the good old Indian curries and seafood would be very well suited for food pairings while cocktails like the Manhattan (usually made with rye whiskey) can be prepared using the Classic Laddie.
Allowing complete transparency, the Bruichladdich official website allows consumers to type in the batch code present at the back of each bottle which will reveal the unique recipe of their whiskey. Challenging the norms and breaking through the walls, Bruichladdich is revolutionizing the liquor world one bottle at a time. From the opaque bottle of Classic Laddie, the no-age statement and now the ‘No Hidden Measures’ approach, they are compelling whiskey lovers to be more inquisitive – to appreciate the whiskey for what it is.
Thanks to this innovative outlook, we will not judge a whiskey by its cover anymore!