The team at Bruichladdich Distillery is, to put it mildly, barley obsessed. Since their doors reopened in 2001, the distillers have been inspired by the world of wine and the belief that terroir can exist in whisky, and that obsession has led to the release of several of Scotland’s most awarded malts.
Now, the latest chapter in the Hebridean distillery’s story is released and aptly named The Biodynamic Project.
The first-ever biodynamic Scotch whisky to be released (one was also released in Ireland not too long ago), this unpeated spirit was distilled in 2011 from a single farm and matured for a decade on the island of Islay. This expression has been bottled straight from the sample room of Head Distiller Adam Hannett, under the Bruichladdich Distillery ‘Projects’ moniker.
This biodynamic barley has been grown outside of Scotland, at Yatesbury House Farm, near Wiltshire in England. And this is unique for the distillery. All Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore single malts are distilled with 100% Scottish barley, so this biodynamic is described as the exception to their rule.
Like organic farming, biodynamic methods don’t use chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers. The method also enlivens the soil through biodynamic preparations and strengthens plants to guard against disease.
Many wine growers in France apply biodynamic principles to nurture the soil in the belief that they improve the quality of the raw ingredient, resulting in a superior flavor.
A recent carbon audit completed at Yatesbury House Farm by farmer Dr. Richard Gantlett found that 10 times more carbon was sequestered there than was emitted.
Bruichladdich distillers find that supporting crops from this carbon positive farm is seen as proof that the whisky industry can work directly with growers to put the planet at the heart of making exceptional food and drink, being described as a fundamental first step towards supporting more regenerative agricultural systems and playing a part in climate change solutions.
“When we started distilling our Organic, Islay-grown and Bere barley expressions, it was driven by the curiosity to seek new and diverse flavors in Scotch whisky,” said Hannett in a prepared statement. “We approached Richard and asked him to certify biodynamically with that same flavor mission in mind. Many years on, we are delighted to know the positive impact these grains have on the environment. They have been crucial to us further examining what crops we purchase and how they play a part in supporting regenerative agriculture.”
He said the flavor of the biodynamic whisky, from when it was first distilled through to maturation, is top notch. “There is a wonderful elevation of the fruity character of Bruichladdich with the biodynamic malt. Apple and pear notes on the spirit are intensified, and with a little water the floral notes burst through, with lots of lilac, honeysuckle and rose. Texturally, there is an extra depth which carries the flavors beautifully.”
Bruichladdich Distillery’s The Biodynamic Project Whisky is available exclusively from www.bruichladdich.com. A total of 5,000 bottles were made at a suggested retail price of £100.