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Bruichladdich’s The Classic Laddie: A Legacy of Innovation Over Tradition

In Partnership with Bruichladdich

While tradition and history are values that distilleries the world over often use to validate their own existence, the team behind The Classic Laddie prefers to focus on the future rather than dwell on the past. While many whisky makers maintain a slavish devotion to doing things a particular way simply because that’s the way they’ve always been done, the passionate men and women manning the Bruichladdich Distillery spend their days devoted to finding new ways of making ever better whisky.

That’s not to say that the Bruichladdich Distillery doesn’t have an abundance of history – with a story that stretches all the way back to 1881 there’s plenty of that – but that’s never been the point for the Bruichladdich team. Instead, these whisky pioneers prefer to question the industry’s rules, daring to pave their own path while embracing the mindset of provocateurs and change makers – just take a look at the strikingly atypical design of The Classic Laddie bottle and label for evidence of that!

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Terroir: The Importance of Place

Located on the southwestern tip of the remote Hebridean island of Islay, the Bruichladdich Distillery stands apart due to a whole-hearted devotion to the concept of terroir. Most commonly associated with the world of wine, terroir is the idea that the soil, sunlight and climate that contribute to the environment in which something is made – be it wine or in this case whisky – has an impact on its final character. As the Bruichladdich team asserts, “any artisanal, living product should evoke a sense of place”.

Adam Hannett, Head Distiller says, “We are proud of our traditions, but are not bound by them. Each Bruichladdich expression brings to life the unique story of the people, the land and the barley from which it was distilled”.

Whether we’re talking the aforementioned Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie, the more heavily peated Port Charlotte, or the Octomore – the world’s most heavily peated whisky – the Bruichladdich Distillery’s products offer terroir in spades. This is best witnessed by looking at the barley used to craft these special drams.

This fundamental raw material is the most flavour-complex grain in the world and an ingredient treated with the utmost reverence by the Bruichladdich Distillery team. With an average of 19 Islay farmers along with others from Orkney and the Scottish mainland supplying barley annually, the Bruichladdich squad keeps terroir front and centre, labelling and tracing the numerous barley varieties coming into the Distillery from different farms and even going so far as to track individual fields within those farms.

Diverse varieties of conventionally grown barley – including Optic, Propino, Concerto, Chalice, Publican, Golden Promise, Maris Otter and more – are distilled separately, as is an organically grown variety sourced from the mainland and the ancient Bere Barley,which is believed to have been grown in Britain since neolithic times.

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Keeping the Scottish in Scotch

Disinterested in doing things the easy or “normal” way, the Bruichladdich Distillery has refused for more than 20 years to use any barley that is not 100 per cent Scottish. But that’s just the baseline. The product range also includes a portfolio of whiskies that are distilled exclusively using the produce of local Islay farms. These can be recognised by their ‘Islay Barley’ designation and include editions across the Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore offerings.

But the journey doesn’t stop there. Experimentation continues at the Distillery in an effort to further innovate and develop both the whisky and whisky-making techniques of the future. These include the distilling of malt derived from 50-tonne, 100-tonne, and 200-tonne batches of conventionally grown barley harvested from three different regions of mainland Scotland: Aberdeen, The Black Isle and the Lothians. While this barley should, in theory, all be identical, the results of the experiment have shown anything but. Instead, subtle nuances have been revealed in the character of these different origins and further reinforced the value in the Distillery’s signature commitment to terroir.

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An Interconnected Future

Further, the Bruichladdich Distillery’s ongoing dismissal of convention has resulted in the release of its very first biodynamically grown Scotch whisky, which has been the one and only exception to the brand’s 100 per cent Scottish barley rule. Through these efforts and more, Bruichladdich has nurtured a connection both to the raw ingredient of the barley itself and to the farming community that cultivates it.

By facing today’s challenging environmental conditions with real purpose and prioritising innovation over tradition, the team at Bruichladdich can create benefits not just for those who enjoy the Distillery’s output or those who work within its walls, but for the wider community. By recognising the value that can be achieved by creating interdependence between agriculture, renewable energy and distilling, the Bruichladdich Distillery is uniquely placed to create a knock-on effect of prosperity throughout the community and beyond. All while making some of the most delicious whisky that could ever pass your lips.

Whether you’re tempted by the iconic Bruichladdich The Classic Laddie or the more heavily peated Port Charlotte and Octomore options, you can derive even greater satisfaction from each sip knowing that your discerning taste is helping the Bruichladdich Distillery invent a bright and sustainable future for whisky.

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AUTHOR

Rob Edwards

Rob Edwards is Man of Many’s Branded Content Writer. As a former editor of Australian T3 and Official Nintendo Magazine Australia, he has a wealth of experience covering the very latest in consumer technology, gaming, and lifestyle products. While Rob likes to think of himself as a reformed musician – he spent years gigging around Australia’s dingiest venues – his addiction to guitars goes on unabated, as he remains eternally convinced that surely the next guitar he buys will be the one to make him feel whole.