Bruichladdich Distillery is now the fastest growing single malt distillery brand in the world recently released figures from the Scotch Malt Whisky Industry Review 2006 confirm. The Annual review, published by stockbrokers Charles Stanley put Bruichladdich as the 27th biggest selling single malt distillery brand worldwide and 16th in the UK. 85 distilleries are in production. Not bad for such a small, private company that started five years ago, especially one that does not sell to Duty Free, has minimalist marketing budget, and a sales team of just three. The team taking on the might of the drinks industry consists of director Andrew Gray, Lynne McEwan (daughter of whisky legend Jim McEwan) and Donald McClellan.
Sales Director Andrew Gray: 'We have been successful in developing sales through a combination of innovation, good distributors and exceptional whisky. ï¿½As we become yet more profitable and more stock comes on line, we could build Bruichladdich into a major drinks brand. Long term anything is possible - we certainly wonï¿½t be constrained by our vision.'
That vision will see Bruichladdich release eight new whiskies over the next two months as part of a strategy to offer variety and individuality. This policy has come in for criticism from industry players used to producing this number of new bottlings in two decades rather than two months.
Since we started in 2001, we decided we wanted to offer our whisky naturally, that is without the usual industry practices of colouring or chill-filtration. It gives more flavour. We wanted to go further and decided to bottle at the distillery on Islay (we're the only people to do so) using Islay spring water rather than Glasgow tap.
With these self-imposed restrictions the art of designing the bottlings takes on great importance. This job falls to three times Distiller of the Year Jim McEwan: 'Andrew gives me a rough idea of what sort of thing he is looking for, I then check out the casks and then I pretty much follow my nose - literally.'
An unusually wide variety of cask types - both American and European oak - and a diverse range of origins - Buffalo Trace to Chateau d'Yquem - allows huge diversity. 'I am always discovering new flavours in the warehouses - I just can't help it. Sharing that experience with a wider audience with a new or updated edition keeps me sane.