Last week MUDL was invited to join a small group of lucky single malt Scotch lovers for a tasting of three expressions from the Bruichladdich range: Classic Laddie, Port Charlotte and Octomore.
We gathered on a rainy Thursday evening at a quaint little barber shop (as you do) in Cape Town's Heritage Square called Barnet Fair. [Incidentally, the name "Barnet Fair" comes from the Cockney Rhyming Slang for hair.]
We were met by House of Machines head bartender Devin Cross, who had taken time out of his off day to share the joys of premium single malt Scotch. What a trooper.
Devin's passion came through in his product knowledge, which he imparted with us as we sampled each of the three Bruichladdich variants mentioned above.
Pronounced Bruich-laddie, Bruichladdich is trickle distilled through tall, elegant stills and matured for all of its life in warehouses on Islay's Atlantic coast.
With a focus on ingredients only 100% Scottish grown barley, every drop is hand crafted by a team of artisans. The only major distiller to bottle spirit on the island itself, Bruichladdich never add colour or chill filter, retaining the vital natural oils which give the spirit its complex flavour profile and unctuous mouth feel.
Revolutionary when it was built in 1881, the Bruichladdich distillery was created by the Harvey Brothers – enthusiastic and entrepreneurial young members of a Glasgow whisky dynasty – with the aim of producing the purest, lightest, most floral spirit possible.
Bruichladdich produces three different variants, which Devin took us through one by one:
- Bruichladdich ClassicLaddie (unpeated)
- Port Charlotte (heavily peated)
- Octomore (the most heavily peated spirit in the world)
The range has something for all Scotch drinkers. The Classic Laddie's floral elegance lends itself to those who prefer a more nuanced taste profile and the Port Charlotte strikes a beautiful balance between delicate flavours and heavy peat. The Octomore is a different animal as the mantle of 'most heavily peated spirit in the world suggests, strictly reserved for those who love rich smoky flavours.
Phil Voget, the Bruichladdich brand manager, describes Bruichladdich with great affection as "probably the most inefficient distillery in the world", a reference to how no corners are cut in producing a truly artisinal product. When Remy Cointreau bought it a few years ago there was a worry among locals that the old ways would be replaced with modern technology in the name of profitability. Thankfully, it appears they adhere to the adage "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."