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Ancient Bere Barley Turns Up In Another Single Malt From Bruichladdich

Bruichladdich-Bere-Barley-2008Editor’s Note: The Whiskey Wash welcomes Daniel Sampson into our drinking and writing circle! 

Off the west coast of Scotland lies the isle of Islay, where Bruichladdich has been distilling spirits since 1881. Their latest release though, can date it’s lineage further back still.

Bere barley is a once staple grain that dates back nearly 5,000 years in Scottish agriculture, and by default, Scottish spirits. In modern times it unfortunately has lost much of the fields to higher yielding and heartier varieties. That being said, it is seeing a bit of a comeback through, as the University of the Highlands and Islands’ Agronomy Institute, based at Orkney College in Kirkwall, are collaborating with farmers and the Islay distillery to find new markets, and re-find a home in this enigmatic single malt known as Bruichladdich Bere Barley 2008.

This, the third release of Bere Barley from Bruichladdich, is the first to be drawn from grain harvested on Orkney. The whisky itself, according to the distillery, has a light, straw yellow coloring. Tasting notes from those who created it indicate the following:

Nose: Instantly floral. Delicate but powerful. Honeysuckle, yellow gorse and heather rise from the glass coaxed by a splash of spring water. As you inhale, the ancient grain surrenders malt sweetness fused with cooked apple and ripe rear, all this swathed in rich oak offering vanilla, heather honey and lemon zest. Displaying the skill of slow distillation and craftsmanship that created it this single malt is harmonious in its complexity

Palate: The texture is that of honey, smooth and suave. Vanilla, brown sugar and zesty citrus stand tall as gentle waves of soft fruit apricot and peach are driven on by a Hebridean breeze filled with the scents of summer. Like a receding wave washes the sand clean your palate is refreshed by a spirit that is gentle and powerful, young and yet knowing.

Finish: Sweet soft and floral, continually pulling you in to release its secrets, to touch this single malt to your lips is a beguiling experience long remembered. A superior spirit skilfully created that has age beyond its years.

It should be noted as well that Bruichladdich is not the only distillery turning to this ancient grain for this interesting whisky. Isle of Arran also recently released a limited edition bottling similar to the one mentioned here.

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