DramVentures 2016 – Islay – Bruichladdich
Our epic tour of Islay was certainly the best whisky trip any of us have ever been on and the unanimous star of the island was Bruichladdich for us. They call themselves “the progressive distillers”, use bright and jet black colours on their bottles, which is a little outside the box for whisky – so we were all keen to get there and see what they had to offer…they really didn’t disappoint…
Here is Bill’s report on it…
Distillery – Bruichladdich
Tour – Warehouse Experience
Cost – £25
Host – Raymond
Time & date 12:00 Saturday 30th April 2016
Wanting to try something a little different on our Islay Tour, we decided to partake in the Warehouse Experience at Bruichladdich. This is the first distillery I ever visited back in 2013, I really enjoyed their standard tour, so I was very excited to return. I think the one thing that you immediately notice about Bruichladdich is their branding and distinctive colour scheme. It certainly draws you in and to my mind encourages you to explore the distillery!
Having checked in at the distillery we were corralled with the rest of the eager visitors and shown to the nearby warehouse by our host for the afternoon, Raymond. What struck us straight away was Raymond’s natural charm and humour. He was passionate about the whisky and keen to hear our views and opinions on the different drams. He gave excellent advice on how best to taste, offering his opinion on the whisky but in an honest and open fashion that made us feel part of an experience as opposed to a lecture on Bruichladdich.
The experience involves a short intro and background to Bruichladdich and then a taste of 3 drams served straight from the casks. What made this experience even more unique was the whisky we tasted wasn’t available to buy and you could only taste it by partaking in the warehouse experience.
We started with a Bruichladdich from a cask distilled in 1989. We were told by Raymond that it was a great representation of the classic Bruichladdich flavour distilled prior to the distillery’s closure for a time. We all agreed that this was an excellent opening dram and on review of the entire tour was unanimously our favourite.
Also, this dram was the same age as Graeme, so that was pretty special for him. Very rarely will you ever get to drink a dram the same age as you.
Our second dram was another cask strength Bruichladdich with a hint of smoke, the popular Port Charlotte. This seemed like a natural stepping stone towards what was about to be one of my most memorable whisky tastings, the infamous Octomore.
For those of you who love smoky whisky then you will no doubt know the Octomore is the most heavily peated whisky about, usually coming in at about 170 ppm (parts per million in reference to the phenol content) that’s about triple the likes of Ardbeg. We all agreed that it surpassed our expectations and was surprisingly smooth and easy to drink given the cask strength and amount of smoke. As we drank, Raymond regaled us with hilarious stories and anecdotes that had the entire group in stitches, but we won’t reveal his secret tasting method for the Octomore…that is something you have to experience for yourself!
(yes we were a few drams in at that point!)
Drams done we were given a chance to have a second dram of our favourites cask before heading back to the courtyard bar. Once in the bar Raymond was happy to advise us on a bottle to purchase and allowed us to sample his two choices. We settled on the Port Charlotte heavily peated Scottish Barley. Despite the great cycle proof packing, we liked it so much that it never made it off the island.
We found all the staff at the distillery to be very warm and welcoming. Generous with their whisky, expertise and hearty banter. If there was one thing that you shouldn’t leave Islay without doing then it’s got to be the Warehouse Experience with Raymond. Wonderful whisky made even more enjoyable by an exceptional host. Certainly value for money and I am already looking forward to my next visit.