Today is a very special day for Islay's Progressive Hebridean Distillers, a.k.a. The Bruichladdich Distillery. Not because it's 9/11 but because it's 11/9/11, but I'll get to that later, let's get back to where it started first. Bruichladdich Distillery was built in 1881 by the brothers Robert William and John Gourlay Harvey in an idyllic spot on the shore of Loch Indaal. At the time, the distillery was state-of-the-art and unlike other distilleries, which were often built from old farm houses, the building was erected specifically for this purpose.
Bruichladdich Distillery closed in 1994 and on 19th December 2000 it was acquired by a small group of private investors led by Mark Reynier. Following extensive renovation, the distillery recommenced distilling at 08.23 on the 29th May 2001. The Victorian decÃ³r was mostly preserved and most of the equipment is still in use today. Jim McEwan, who had worked at Bowmore Distillery since he was 15yrs old, was hired as Production Director.
Since the start in 2001 the distillery was very succesful and managed to attract many folks from far and away in their welcoming visitor centre. The Bottling Hall, unique for Islay, has been running since May 25, 2003. In May 2004, a cooperage hall was opened, and since that same year more and more (organic) barley from Islay was used which resulted in 2011 in the first biodynamic whisky being distilled on the island. In the first ten years the distillery received several prices: Distillery of the Year 2001, 2003 & 2006, Innovator of the Year 2005 and Pioneer of the Year 2007. These are just some of the highlights, the list is almost endless.
And now, 10 years after the re-opening in 2001 and exactly 10 years after distillation, on 11 September 2011 at 11am the first bottles of Bruichladdich's new flagship product, Bruichladdich 10 Year old, rolled from the production line marking another great moment for the hugely popular and very succesful Islay distillers. A quote from the all new and stunningly beautiful Bruichladdich website. Continue reading.....
"Being Progressive Hebridean Distillers, we view our product range in a different way to the conventional whisky category. Convention dictates that the more premium (and expensive) the spirit, the more itâ€™s packaging is expressive of the brandâ€™s innermost qualities and philosophy. We turn that thinking on its head. For us, this first Bruichladdich 10 Year Old is a flagship product - as much for us as the consumer. It is the first spirit we distilled after resurrecting this wonderful distillery, and it is the hard-won fruit of 10 years of hard work and unrelenting struggle.
"Itâ€™s a dram that we are exceptionally proud of. It is our own, classic, all bourbon-aged spirit and shows off the timeless Bruichladdich qualities â€“ elegance, purity, fruit, floral and with that light bracing tang of sea breeze. Accordingly, the packaging celebrates, and is a saturation of, the Bruichladdich aqua â€“ on a sunny day the colour of the sea outside the distillery gates â€“ the ultimate statement of "Bruichladdich-ness".
"The packaging carries no flags, no crests, no little woodcut illustrations of highland glens or oak casks, no "Victorian" engravings, no "Gaelic" typefaces; no gold borders, no tartan, no Monarch of the Glen. No fake heritage to hide behind, just our aqua, and our own progressive, modern information typography. And Jim McEwanâ€™s signature is reproduced on every tin â€“ the man who made it."
To celebrate this special occasion Bruichladdich offers a one-off opportunity. On Sunday 11th visitors at the distillery only will have the opportunity to buy one special edition LADDIE TEN with an "I Was There" label. Close of play Sunday, game over. However they are also creating an "I Was There Online!" label in a limited edition of 300 bottles only â€“ these will go to the first 300 purchasers on their new website.
The first and third picture are taken today by Mark Unsworth of Islay Studios who was present this afternoon and told me that it was quite busy with both locals and visitors.