Bruichladdich - Port Charlotte - Octomore whisky (Islay)

And the future looks bright for the friendly people of Bruichladdich... With the new bottling plant that was opened in 2003, Bruichladdich can now bottle its own malts on site, providing some much needed employment opportunities on this relatively remote part of Islay in the process. It's much more convenient for Bruichladdich as well; before they opened the bottling plant they shipped tankers full of spring water from the farm of James Brown's (not the R&B legend) at Octomore to the mainland to dilute the whisky from the casks to 46%.

Bruichladdich Scotch Whisky

Bruichladdich  (Pronounced: broo-ik-LADdie)
Islay (Lochindaal)
55°46'4.8216 N, 6°21'35.8848 W
Kilchoman, Bowmore, Bunnahabhain, Caol Ila
1881
Active
Spring at Octomore farm
2 Wash stills, 2 Spirit stills
1,500,000 litres of pure alcohol per year
Remy Cointreau > Bruichladdich Distillery Co. (since 2012)
Bruichladdich, Islay, Argyll, PA49 7UNI, Scotland
+441496 850 221

Yes
Sort of...
Yes - lots and lots of them...
Below, on Whiskyfun and on the Malt Maniacs Monitor

Where to find Bruichladdich
Bruichladdich location

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Trivia about Bruichladdich

1) For their first new Bruichladdich bottlings the new owners used extremely lightly peated barley of 2 PPM.

2) William Harvey (the father of the Harvey brothers that were responsible for the construction of Bruichladdich in 1881) was the owner of two other whisky distilleries; Yoker and Dundashill.

3) Bruichladdich distillery is open to visitors all year long, Monday to Friday.
Tours are available at 10.30am 11.30am and 2.30am (and at 10.30am on Summer Saturdays).

4) Mark Reynier and Jim McEwan from Bruichladdich bought a number of second hand stills (as well as a lot of other distillery equipment) from the now defunct Inverleven distillery in the Dumbarton grain whisky complex.

5) Bruichladdich is one of almost two dozen malt whisky distilleries that were founded over a century ago during the 'whisky boom' of the late 19th century and which have managed to survive until this day. The other survivors include Aberfeldy, Ardmore, Aultmore, Balvenie, Benriach, Benromach, Bunnahabhain, Craigellachie, Dalwhinnie, Dufftown, Glendullan, Glenfiddich, Glenrothes, Glentauchers, Knockandu, Knockdhu, Longmorn, Tamdhu and Tomatin.
 

Bruichladdich single malt whisky

The malt whisky that is produced at Bruichladdich distillery is sold under three different brand names;

Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich 3yo 'X4' (63.5%, OB, Quadrupple distilled, Bottled 2010)
Nose: It feels young, with wheat, barley and other grain aroma's. Some organics emerge after a minute.
Adding water didn't really help - the rough edges of the youth still remain a distraction.
Taste: Smooth, but the youth shines through beneath the surface. Sweet, sticky tannins in the finish.
Score: 64 points - not my cup of tea. It's quite clean and offers some complexity, but little more...

Bruichladdich 16yo 'The Sixteens - Bourbon Cask' (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2010)
Nose: Dry and a little nondescript. Light fruity notes and some chloride.
Taste: This starts quite sweetish, growing drier in the centre. The finish remains dry and grows quite hot.
Score: 73 points - I'd have to classify this as "below average"; there's not much to get excited about.

Bruichladdich 16yo 'The Sixteens - Cuvee 'E' Sauternes' (46%, OB, 'First Growth', +/- 2010, 12000 Bts.)
Nose: Fairly balanced. Toffee, chloride and some fruits. Not too expressive, but a very decent malt whisky.
Taste: Dry start - and it stays dry throughout the centre and finish as well. A whisky for a cool spring evening.
Score: 80 points - it's a little drier than I personally like, but other than that I'd recommend it.

Bruichladdich 2003/2009 'Organic' (46%, OB, 15,000 Bts.)
Nose: Fresh. Green apples. Quite undefined. Whiff of oil? Most of the flavours are gone after a minute.
Taste: Sparkly start. Dry, slightly uneven centre. A faint sweetness. Some beer notes in the finish.
Score: 75 points - the score may not seem that impressive, but it actually IS for such a young whisky.

Bruichladdich 1992/2009 'Sherry Edition 2' (46%, OB, PX cask finish, 6000 Bts.)
Nose: Rich and oaky. Fruits. Cough syrup. Growing complexity after some breathing. My kind of profile.
There is a 'pressure cooked' element that betrays many finished whiskies, but for me it works in this case.
Taste: Woody start with sweetness marching to the foreground. Cough syrup in the sweet centre.
Some smoke with a hint of organics in the finish. As finishes go, this is fairly well integrated.
Score: 87 points - some people might have troubles with finished whiskies, but I like this one.

Bruichladdich 18yo (46%, OB, Matured in Petit Manseng casks from Clos Uroulat, Sweet Jurançon, +/- 2008)
Nose: Nondescript and a little depressing. Finished? Rotting milk powder. A little metallic?
Taste: Hmm, something feels off. Aspirin in the bitter finish. Sour and bitter with a harsh mouth feel.
Score: 72 points - I can't imagine how bad the whisky was, that this finishing was considered an improvement.
I should point out that opinions vary about this one though; Mark Gillespie scored it in the 90's.

Bruichladdich NAS 'Infinity' (55.5%, OB, Bottled 2005)
Nose: Big and fruity. Clay? Hints of smoke and sulphur? A little bit dirty. Some organics. Yeah, I dig this...
Meaty. Nice development - a pleasure cruise for the nose. Horse Stable. Or should I call it 'horse unstable'?
Taste: Hint of perfume? Just a touch of bitterness. Strong tannins. Smoke. Could be a Bowmore or G'garioch?
The taste is not nearly as enjoyable as I imagined at first, but it improves considerably after 5 minutes. Sweeter.
Score: 87 points - by no means perfect (especially on the palate), but the nose is right up my alley.
I had it in the lower 80's for a long time, but it eventually reaches the upper 80's. Needs time!

Bruichladdich 3D 'Moine Mhor' (50%, OB, Bottled 2005)
Nose: Peat and organics. Not especially powerful. Seems to open up a little bit with time. Yes it does.
Lovely nose. Light and farmy. Sweet. Quite grainy with the faintest hint of peat. Grows on me.
Taste: Peaty start, but it flattens out quickly. A little dry and sombre with a hint of liquorice in the finish.
Score: 84 points - A good peaty whisky, but it seems to lack the depth and complexity of some others.

Bruichladdich 1989/2004 (57.9%, G&M Reserve, C#1957, 275 Bts.)
Nose: Polished with quite some wood. Raisins & other fruits in the background - my kind of profile.
Growing complexity. Possibly more cask influence than distillery influence but I like it a lot.
Taste: Loads of smoke - hardly recognisable as a Bruichladdich! Quite some wood too.
Nice fruity tannins and anthracite in the finish. Wonderful mouth feel; powerful yet smooth at c/s.
Score: 89 points - which makes it one of the very best Laddies I've ever tried.

Bruichladdich 1990/2003 'Valinch Flora McBabe' (55.2%, OB, C#3666, 700 Bts., D. 09/'90 Btl. 12/'03)
Nose: Whiff of smoke and organics; a lot of 'balls' for a Bunny. Then more perfumy notes emerge.
Some artificial blackbarry candy fruits. Cassis? Was this wine finished? Later more chalk and clay.
Taste: Easily drinkable at cask strength. Smooth with a solid afterburn. Faint dry, peaty finish.
Score: 82 points - which is once again a few points below those awarded by other maniacs.
It started out in the mid 80's for me, but lost steam after a few minutes. Light tannins, flat finish.

Bruichladdich 10yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2001 under new ownership, 70cl)
Nose: Light, soft and sweet. Some banana? Almost flowery. More expressive than I expected.
More 'volume' than the old 10yo, but it slowly fades away over time. Still hardly any peat.
Taste: Clean and smooth, but not a lot of depth. Not as much to enjoy as in the nose.
Score: 77 points - an improvement compared to the previous expression of the 10yo.

Bruichladdich 15yo (46%, OB, Bottled +/- 2001 under new ownership, 70cl)
Nose: More sherried than the new 10yo. Slightly dry. Spicy. Some salt. More salty than peaty.
Cookie-dough sweetness. Growing complexity. This one needs a little bit of time, though.
Taste: Smooth, but with a peaty twang in the background. More potent than the 'old' 15yo.
The taste follows the beat of the nose, but plays a different melody. Recommendable.
Score: 83 points - a major improvement on the 15yo bottled by the previous owners.

Bruichladdich 15yo (43%, OB, Bottled +/- 1998 under previous ownership, 33cl)
Nose: Restrained. Sweetish notes. Soap? A little oily. Not a lot of depth, I'm afraid.
Not unlike a very young Caol Ila without the peat. Where's the Islay power I'm looking for?
Taste: Malty start, then some salt and smoke - just a little bit. It's very easily drinkable.
It has a salty bite to it, but it's nothing like the big Islay malts - Ardbeg, Laphroaig, etc.
Score: 77 points - a little above average, bit not something I'd recommend.

Bruichladdich 10yo (40%, OB, Bottled +/- 1995 under previous ownership, 70cl)
Nose: Smoky, yet subtle aroma. Tingly with some oiliness. Did I imagine that touch of seaweed?
This is odd... It's an Islay whisky but I can find not peat whatsoever. Am I dreaming?
Taste: Rather soft and a little salty. Very light - the lightest Islay I ever tasted actually.
Score: 75 points - not really my cup of tea; I want to be swept off my feet...

Bruichladdich 16yo 1979/1995 (43%, Signatory, C#834-35)
Nose: Clean and grassy, sweetening out. Balanced. Grassy notes evolve to 'veggy' notes. String beans?
Growing complexity with notes of dust and freshly sawn dry wood. More alcoholic over time. Rubber?
Taste: Quite sharp with a very satisfying after burn in the throat. Trace of peat, but not much.
Score: 78 points - although it might have reached the 80's based on the nose alone.
 

Octomore

Octomore 5yo 'Orpheus Edition 02.2' (61%, OB, Bottled +/- 2010)
Nose: Wow! Big, sweet and peaty; right up my alley. Meaty notes. Coffee. Buysman burnt caramel.
Very sharp at cask strength. With a splash of water and some time it sweetens out. A little rubber?
Taste: Sweet start with loads of smoke. Tar. Very, very hot. More sweet liquorice after I added water.
Score: 87 points - still an amazing whisky at the juvenile age; just a tad less complex as the 2009 edition.

Octomore 5yo '2nd Edition' (62.5%, OB, 140ppm, Bottled 2009, 15,000 Bts.)
Nose: Sharp peat with a hint of rubber and some citrus in the distant background. Anthracite and smoke.
Quite extreme. Some meaty notes. I'm not always a fan of extreme, but this is right up my alley.
More industrial than organic in the beginning; but that changes a bit after fifteen minutes.
Taste: Surprisingly sweet start, followed by loads of tar and smoke.
Dry, salty and phenolic centre and finish. Rubbery - which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Score: 88 points - This whisky benefits from some breathing.
 

Port Charlotte

Port Charlotte 7yo 2002/2010 (63.5%, Whisky Doris, C# 1171, 298 Bts.)
Nose: It starts off much sweeter (toffee) than I expected and the attack on the nose is very gentle at first.
It powers up after a few seconds, with whiffs of diesel, smoked meat, citrus & oil against a phenolic background.
Lovely development over time, revealing many different nuances. What a lovely complex nose at this age!
Hey, rubber! I didn't dare to add water for a long time because it developed so wonderfully on its own.
When I did I found loads of fresh fragrances like roasted nuts and even some light fruits. Great whisky!
Taste: Fairly harsh and uni-dimensional at cask strength. Powerful tannins from start to finish.
Loads of smoke. Diluted to +/- 55% ABV it grew notably smoother and sweeter - and a little nutty.
Diluted further to about 45% I found more rubber on the palate - and the whisky seemed a lot fresher.
Score: 86 points - a fantastic nose! Too bad they filled less than 300 bottles of this stuff.

Port Charlotte 8yo 'PC8' (60.5%, OB, , Bottled +/- 2010, 30000 Bts.)
Nose: Fruity and quite sweet with a phenolic undercurrent. Hints of oil and dust. Some rubber perhaps?
Salmiak. Tar. It mellows out considerably after I added some water with more meaty notes and organics.
Taste: A nice balance between peat and sweet. Ashes and tar in the finish. Dry but quite chewable.
Score: 86 points - perhaps not as spectacular as the first expression I tried, but very respectable.

Port Charlotte 2001/2008 'PC7' (61%, OB, Bourbon and Sherry casks, 24000 Bts.)
Nose: Starts off very subtle, but slowly reveals several layers of complexity. Cheese and old sweaty socks.
Hint of mint. Spinach? Honey roasted ribs? I seem to detect some subtleness going on in the background.
Palate: Surprisingly peaty - the nose doesn't give away any of that. Hot, long finish.
Score: 82 points - but this is my 8th dram of the evening, so my senses are largely burnt away by now.

Port Charlotte 2001/2005 (61.4%, Gordon Homer IB, Bloodtub # R23, 39 Bottles)
Nose: Wow! Leather, sweat and peat, followed by sweeter notes. Werther's Original? Fruit sweets?
Taste: Sweet and peaty. Smoky and fruity. Wonderful mouth feel! Heavily smoked sausage. Gunpowder?
Score: 93 points - truly astounding. Very probably the best 4yo malt I've ever tried! Not for the faint-hearted.
 

And there's more to tell about Bruichladdich...

These were not all (official & independent) bottlings of Bruichladdich Scotch whisky I've tried over the years.
Besides, these tasting notes only reflect my own, personal opinion; your tastes might be different from mine.
Fortunately, you can find the scores and tasting notes from up to two dozen other whisky lovers in the 'Malt Maniacs Monitor' - an independent whisky database with details on more than 15,000 different whiskies from Scotland and the rest of the world. Visit the Bruichladdich page on the MMMonitor and select 'scorecard view' if you want to know how other malt whisky lovers felt about the hundreds of Bruichladdich expressions that have been released in recent years. However, if you'd like to learn more about whisky in general (and single malt Scotch whisky in particular), you might want to check out the Beginner's Guide to Scotch whisky (10 chapters filled with everything you need to fully enjoy and appreciate a glass of malt whisky) or the mAlmanac (sort of a rudimentary whisky shopping guide.)
 

Bruichladdich distillery in the new millennium

2000 - At the start of the new millennium the remains of the mothballed Bruichladdich distillery are bought by a group of private investors. Driving force was Mark Reynier of bottler Murray McDavid. Reports say that the price of the distillery was 6,500,000 GBP at the time - including some maturing stocks of Bruichladdich malt whisky.
 
2001 - The driving force behind the purchase of the Bruichladdich distillery was Murray McDavid's Mark Reynier. Shortly after the distillery was obtained by the new owners, Bowmore's Jim McEwan was called in as production director.
 
2006 - The first official bottling of Port Charlotte is released; a more heavily peated brand of the Bruichladdich. At the time there were still plans to build a second distillery in some nearby sheds, but those plans seem abandoned now. The good news is that this will avoid confusion in the future about what's genuine Port Charlotte whisky (produced at the Port Charlotte distillery) and the brand of whisky that was produced at the Bruichladdich distillery.
 
2008 - The first bottling of yet another brand of is released; the very heavily peated Octomore.
 
2012 - Twelve years after Mark Reynier and a group of private investors (Bruichladdich Distillery Co.) revived the Bruichladdich distillery, they sold it to drinks conglomerate Remy Cointreau. The company which produces many well known brands (like Rémy Martin cognac, Cointreau liqueur and Mount Gay rum) purchased Bruichladdich in June 2012. Remy Cointreau paid £58,000,000 for all Bruichladdich shares, so the initial investors managed to make a neat little profit. Not long after completing the sale, Mark Reynier left the Bruichladdich distillery.
 

Malt maniacs at Bruichladdich in 2005

Apart from the traditionally lightly peated spirit that
is still produced under the name Bruichladdich, two
more heavily peated malts are being produced at
the distillery. A heavily peated (40 PPM) malt under
the name 'Port Charlotte' (the name of the village
two miles south of the distillery) is being produced
since the start (or shortly afterwards) and they
also have an even more heavily peated (80.5 PPM)
malt with the name 'Octomore'.
 
Octomore is the name of another silent Islay
distillery in the area, situated in a farm next to
the warehouses of the old Lochindaal distillery.
The original Octomore distillery was closed in
1852, three decades before Bruichladdich was
built. However, a link with the past still remains;
Bruichladdich distillery uses spring water from
Octomore farm.
 
The picture at the right was taken during the
Islay Festival of 2005 (Feis Ile) when a bunch
of malt maniacs visited the island. The picture
shows (from left to right) Serge Valentin, Peter
Silver, Olivier Humbrecht, Thomas Lipka and
Davin de Kergommeaux. Check out Malt Maniacs
for their perspectives on our whisky experiences.

Bruichladdich logo

Until recently, Associated Scottish Distillers also offered a
so-called 'bastard' bottling of Bruichladdich under the name Loch
Indaal or Lochindaal. This bottle was named after the old
Lochindaal distillery located East of the village of Port Charlotte,
which used to have its own distilleries. Lochindaal operated until
1929 when it was dismantled. Its warehouses are now used to
store the Port Charlotte malt. Until recently Bruichladdich was the
only surviving distillery on the Western peninsula, but since the
brand new Kilchoman distillery was opened in 2005 by proprietor Anthony Willis, the number of western Islay distilleries doubled.
The westernmost distillery of Scotland is Abhainn Dearg though.

Bruichladdich Scotch whisky (ceramic)

In 1938 Bruichladdich (also known as Bruichladdie) was sold to Hatim Attari, Joheph W. Hobbs and Alexander W. Tolmie. And the distillery kept changing hands like a hot potato. In 1952 it was sold to Ross & Coulter Ltd, who in turn sold it to A.B. Grant in 1960. Invergordon Distillers acquired Bruichladdich in 1968 and expanded the number of stills from two to four in 1975, before selling it to JBB / Whyte & Mackay.

The Bruichladdich distillery was mothballed again in January 1995 and sold in 2000 to a consortium of twenty five different shareholders that operated under the name 'Bruichladdich Distillery Co. Ltd.'.

Driving force behind the purchase was Murray McDavid's Mark Reynier. Together with other seasoned professionals like Jim McEwan (formerly of Bowmore) they managed to get production started again in May 2001. Although that new spirit couldn't legally be sold as 'whisky' for at least three years, the new owners also acquired a lot of maturing stocks that were laid down by Invergordon and JBB / Whyte & Mackay. These stocks were used to establish the brand as quickly as possible.

The overwhelming success that Mark and Jim have had with the bottlings they released from these old stocks is a perfect illustration of the crucial role of careful cask selection; within one or two years Bruichladdich was transformed from an 'ugly duckling' brand into a beautiful swan.
Well, I'm sure their clever marketing also helped ;-)

Bruichladdich distillery profileInteractive whisky distillery mapScotland - whisky distillery informationScotch whisky bottlersScotch malt whisky brandsNew distillery projects
Bruichladdich distillery

The Bruichladdich distillery is located on
the north shore of Lochindaal, near the
town of Port Charlotte (fine dining!) and
directly opposite Bowmore. This made it
the  westernmost distillery in Scotland until
Kilchoman was officially opened in 2005.

Bruichladdich was constructed in 1881 by
Robert, William and John Gourlay Harvey.
Members of the Harvey family remained
owners and shareholders until 1929 when
the Bruichladdich distillery was mothballed.

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