Congratulations, Bruichladdich!

It’s with great appreciation and some sadness that I announce that I am shutting down this blog. I’m going to shut down as follows:

  • This announcement (2011-Jul-13)
  • Shutting down comments (2011-Aug-02)

This blog was “born” on 2-Aug in 2008 and I thought it should “die” on the same day. Most importantly, this was never meant to be about me…other than chronicling my appreciation of Bruichladdich and my enjoyment of its products. I also used the blog to share my learnings about how Scotch whisky is made.

Since we’re getting close to this blog’s birthday, and since Bruichladdich recently celebrated the new ownership’s first 10 years during Feis Ile 2011, and since they’ll soon have a shiny new website, I thought it was time that I should shut this down.

Of course, on the Internet, nothing ever dies, so I am going to leave the blog up but my final post will make it clear that the blog is closed. I hope that some of my writing has lasting value. This blog was never endorsed by Bruichladdich and the name was meant simply to convey my deep appreciation of their products and attitude.

This was my first real foray into blogging, I am now much more active on my Whisky2.0 blog and the related social activities on Twitter, Facebook and Google+, I think that this blog is no longer representative of my more expansive interest in whisk(e)y. I’m now privileged to participate in a much broader conversation about whisk(e)y.

I started writing here because I was getting into Scotch whisky and I became quite attracted to the products of Bruichladdich. I have to admit, I love their brash marketing (it’s close to my style of Marketing, and although it is my profession, I can’t claim to be as good at it as they are!).

So, congratulations to Bruichladdich Distillery Company on their first 10 years, and best wishes for many more decades of success. I recommend that you follow their blog and enjoy their whisky (including the Octomore and Port Charlotte product lines)! (Oh, and they make Islay Gin, too — from local botanicals!)

Putting the “MORE” in Octomore

You have to appreciate the chutzpah (חוצפה) in creating the most heavily peated malt…ever. According to Bruichladdich, as released today, they have achieved (wait for it…) 309 ppm phenol level in the latest Octomore: Check it out. This is astounding…it’s over 3x the nearest ultra-peaty whisky (Ardbeg Supernova).

No earlier than July 2014, you’ll be able to buy this product (it has to be at least 3 years old to call it Single-Malt Scotch Whisky). Get in line. I’m already in that line with all the other peat freaks. 🙂 If it’s as good as they say, it will be an astounding whisky, even at a young age.

Cooking with Gas

I see that Bruichladdich is finally starting to benefit from their pioneering biogas project. I covered this about a year ago, when I was much more active on this blog. They essentially take the waste vegetable matter from the malting and distillation processes and use anaerobic digestion equipment to generate gases (like Methane, presumably) that they can use to generate electricity. Since this is a very green project, I bet they aren’t using a boiler-type system to convert the gas to electricity; I suspect a fuel cell.

BTW, Bruichladdich is using the Lomond still I mentioned in that story to make gin: Islay gin. I’d like to try some of that…. I really love their “because we can” attitude — are we positive that Bruichladdich isn’t based in Silicon Valley?

A New Link for German Bruichladdich Lovers

Thanks to Holger Wendt for reaching out to me. He runs an online whisk(e)y retailer in Hamburg, Germany:

Kontakt (English translation by Google)
Inhaber Herr Holger Wendt
Julius-Vosseler-Straße 81
22527 Hamburg, Germany

I appreciate that he has linked to this blog from his Bruichladdich Whisky site (note: his site is written in German!), and I encourage all my German readers to visit his site. BTW, if you want to know what his site looks like in English, here is a translation by Google.

Stills, Waste and Other News

In late 2009, Bruichladdich released the fourth (and final) Port Charlotte whisky: It’s 8 years old and is bottled at 60.5% ABV (cask strength). The name of this expression is “Ar Dùthchas” and it honors the long history of human habitation on this island (it literally means “land of our heritage”). PC8 will be available in the US no earlier than mid-2010 (presuming that this year will be like past years…), with 2500 cases having been released for worldwide distribution. Readers in the UK can already buy it.

You’ll remember that Port Charlotte is heavily peated (40 ppm), a description that was apt when it was first distilled on 23-Oct-2001, though the “peat explosion” of the first decade of the 21st century has seen Bruichladdich produce 125+ ppm whisky (known as Octomore; there have been several releases at different stratospheric peating levels), while Ardbeg has released the 100 ppm Supernova.

In other news, Bruichladdich has installed an unusual Lomond still (the spelling might be “Lomand”…) for undeclared purposes (though their press release did mention that Jim McEwan has designed some enhancements for it). It should be obvious to the most casual observer that the Bruichladdich team has enthusiastically embraced whisky production in all its forms. We’ll have to wait and see what they produce in this new/old still.

Bruichladdich has also taken a further step toward sustainable operations by installing an anaerobic digester device that will convert spent barley into fuel to generate electricity, possibly heating water for mashing and/or directly fueling their stills.

Bruichladdich has made admirable strides in producing a 100%-Islay product, including providing a reason for Islay’s barley farmers to grow organic grain. Now they are trying to make their whisky “green” by reusing/consuming their waste products. If their experiment proves successful, their initial capital outlay will create benefits in reduced operational expenses downstream. The whisky business creates a lot of organic waste products and it would be excellent if they could be turned into a local source of energy instead of just…wasted.

Welcome to the TouBB Blogroll: Abbey Whisky

Abbey Whisky, a specialist supplier of rare, collectable and exclusive scotch malts has an online presence, delivering very fast and secure UK and International delivery direct from the heart of Scotland.

If you try them out, please comment here and share the love!

I Got My PC7!

I’m still afflicted with a cold, so my taste buds won’t appreciate the subtleties when I do a vertical tasting of the PC5, PC6 then PC7. I’ll give it at least a week, presuming I don’t pick up any more germs on this trip.

For my own records, here are “just the facts” for the Port Charlotte range so far:

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 5yr

  • Name: Evolution
  • ABV: 63.5% (cask strength)

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 6yr

  • Name: Cuairt-Beatha (in English: “Walk of Life”)
  • ABV: 61.6% (cask strength)

Bruichladdich Port Charlotte 7yr

  • Name: Sin an Doigh Ileach (in English: “It’s the Islay way, and may it never change”)
  • ABV: 61.0% (cask strength)

I was talking to my liquor supplier (Ken Chalmers at Beltramo’s) who told me he heard that the PC7 wasn’t quite as good as the PC6. The few online reviews indicate that it’s a very good dram (well, maybe it’s indeed not quite as good: The PC6 was spectacular, after all!). Ken hasn’t had the PC7 yet, so maybe I’ll share some of mine with him.

I’d be curious to see what Jim Murray thought of it, since he really liked the PC6 but I can’t find out until the 2010 Whisky Bible is available in the USA. 😦 I’m toying with the idea of ordering a signed copy of the Whisky Bible, direct from the UK, but that would almost double the cost. Worth it? Dunno…. Jim Murray’s signature is free (of course!), but the £10.99 price (about $18) — plus shipping — is much more than the cost in dollars, probably $16. And I don’t pay for shipping since I am a member of Amazon Prime.

Finally, the word on the street still is that the PC8 will be the last of these limited release annual bottlings of Port Charlotte. I predict that the Port Charlotte expression will initially be an 8yr and will be in regular ongoing production. I expect that the folks at Bruichladdich will hold back some of each year’s production for experimentation and aging beyond 8 years. That’s just based on my understanding of their history and their penchant for experimentation. Given the enthusiastic response to Port Charlotte so far, and given the success of the renewed brand, I expect great things.

WhiskyFest San Francisco 2009

I got to experience a few new-ish Bruichladdich expressions that I have written about but never tasted. I have to say that I really loved the Resurrection 2001 dram. It was a well-balanced expression and I find the range of whiskies that Bruichladdich produces to be a continual source of amazement. This is the first (I think) product since the new owners acquired the distillery in 2001. The Port Charlotte range also dates from that time frame, and I’m not sure which came first.

I also had the 16yr “First Growth” Series – A and B. They are very different! The effect of the wood on the whiskies is very unique. I believe that all these started out as 16yrs in ex-Bourbon barrels and then were migrated to the appropriate ex-burgundy casks. These were not as fruity or sweet as Sherried whiskies, but were wonderful nonetheless. Sadly, the First Growth Series is a bit out of my price range, but I think I’ll be having a Resurrection 2001 (and a Port Charlotte PC7) before the year is out.

Finally, it was a pleasure to meet Andrew Gray, one of the principals at BDC. I’ve exchanged many emails with him in the past and it was nice to personally welcome him to my home town.

More on Whisky Fringe and PC8

Whisky Fringe’s tasting in 2009 included 200 whiskies, and the winner was based on the public’s voting, not that of whisky “experts.” Bruichladdich’s Port Charlotte 8-year-old (“Ar Dùthchas,” or “Land of Our Fathers”) won it all.

I love it that a major whisky tasting happened in a church. Only in Scotland, I guess. 🙂 Come to that, I wonder if I could open a branch of that church here in California?

I was really impressed with PC5 and PC6, and based on Jim Murray’s ratings, I can’t wait to taste PC7, which he gave a very slightly better rating than the PC6. Bruichladdich has to be congratulated for executing so well on resurrecting Port Charlotte. It should be an excellent dram for years to come. For 40 ppm phenol content, it’s very drinkable and exceptionally well balanced (speaking of PC6, the oldest I’ve tasted).

Hurricane Bill Heading for Islay

Well, Bill will be a sub-tropical depression, not a hurricane anymore, by the time it gets there around noon on Wednesday 26-Aug-2009. Still…watch out for wind and lots of rain! Depending on the storm’s track, BowmoreBruichladdich and Kilchoman could get hammered since they are on the west side of Islay.

Luckily it’s hitting Islay during the quiet Summer months when most distilleries are not in production.