Tag Archives: Bruichladdich Distillery

Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Nov. 25.

PORTRAIT OF A WHISKY LOVER

What makes someone who has never been to Islay, far less to Bruichladdich, get themselves a  Bruichladdich tattoo? Derek Mather of Artisan Restaurant in Wishaw is the very man to ask.

photo of Derek Mather

DEREK MATHER  ~ whisky lover from Old Kilpatrick,  living in Carstairs  ~  but, not in the hospital facility  (even though his wife, Fiona, says he should be!)  has upwards of 1,700 good whiskies to offer diners at his restaurant.

Derek worked in numerous Scottish restaurants and was frustrated at the whisky being offered to people ~ generic brand names that didn’t in any way showcase the range and depth of fantastic whisky produced in Scotland ~ or indeed in other countries. So, Derek, and his wife Fiona, decided to open Artisan Restaurant. A restaurant where people can sample the best of Scottish food

Octomore Beef

(~ beef from Octomore farm in Islay, Octomore is where the water comes from for Bruichladdich Distillery) ~ and drink it with the best of Scottish whisky ~  the sauce is made with Black Art!

  Derek said, ‘some of our whiskies are expensive, but most of them are very affordable. Well, I think they are, and I have been told by many people who go out drinking in Glasgow and Edinburgh that my whiskies are fantastic value as they have paid a lot more for them in the big cities.’

If Bruichladdich are the progressive Hebridean Distillers ~  Derek is the progressive Lowland restuarateur! His connection with Bruichladdich goes even further than just having 300 of their bottles in his living collection ~ Derek sports a personally designed Bruichladdich tattoo.

DEREK MATHER TATTOO

When the distillery staff came to Artisan and saw Derek’s tattoo ~ and his Bruichladdich whisky collection, they dubbed him the Maddie Laddie Collector. I asked him what is so special for him about Bruichladdich. Derek said, ‘Because they released so many quirky bottles when they reopened in 2001 and continued the trend throughout the next ten years, they weren’t afraid to try something different!’

Derek told me his love for whisky stems for his love of all things Scottish ~  it helped that his father gave him a bottle of Glenfiddich for his 18th.

One of the things that draws Derek to whisky is the passion and dedication that goes into crafting a bottle ~ not to mention drinking one! He likes the way whisky is created differently depending on cask, length of maturation, region.

GlenmorangiePort Charlotte

In Artisan, Derek offers guests great whiskies from around the globe, but his heart is with Scotch whisky ~ and who can blame him! He told me he drinks Islays on cold days and Speysides and Highlands on warmer days ~ needless to say he drinks many more Islays!

The best bottle Derek has in his collection is a secret dram ~ it is a very rare Bruichladdich ~ and he is not at liberty to tell exactly what………

Derek wishes he still had a bottle of the ‘Rare Malts ~ a Clynelish 24 yo ~  a stunning dram.’  The oldest dram he holds at present is a 46 yo Invergordon and the youngest they have are a couple of 3 year olds ~ one being Bruichladdich X4 +3, a very fresh tasting young dram.

 The most popular  with the customers are Highland and Speyside whiskies like Balvenie, Macallan and Glendronach. More women are coming into Artisan to dine and becoming adventurous when it comes to drinking whisky. People are asked what flavours they like, then, a whisky is sourced for them from the prestigious collection.

Sounds to me like an excellent night out ~ 

ARTISAN WITH WHISKYDerek Mather Photo

 

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Aug. 21.

Still Games from Bruichladdich

When Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) saw the new Valinch from Bruichladdich, we knew we had to get a bottle……

Still Games

As usual the Bruichladdich Team are on good witty form with this offering ~

Still Game is a Scottish Television show which is extremely funny ~ http://www.bbc.co.uk/scotland/tv/chewinthefat/jack_and_victor/still_game/

http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/still_game/episodes/

Jack and Victor, the main characters, are  two Glaswegian pensioners going about their lives and getting into scrapes.

Calling the Valinch Cask  ‘Still Games’ is witty on so many levels ~ McEwan and McGillivray are still game, Still Games are  what is needed to make a whisky…….

Seeing Jim McEwan and Duncan McGillivray in the style of  Jack and Victor gives the locals such a good laugh, because they are both great comedy duos ~

It is heart warming that these two Islay men ~ icons of the whisky world, have the humour and the self confidence to create this joke involving themselves and icons of the comedy world ~ (some may say it is difficult to know which icons are which…..)

On Friday August 16, Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) took ourselves off  to Bruichladdich to fill a bottle of the Still Games golden nectar.

video of cask filling  ~     http://youtu.be/vvbmiJU53Oc

This dram is 10 years matured in a Port Cask and comes in at 62.2% alcohol by volume ~ so plenty dram for your buck!

The Valinch series from Bruichladdich are individual casks from which members of the public can come into the distillery  and hand fill a 500ml bottle.  My bottle is number 131 out of 450 bottles  from the Still Games cask.

This individual bottling is available until the cask is drained,  then a  different one is brought in and set up for hand filling.  These bottlings are exclusive to the distillery and are not available for general release.

This means you must come to Bruichladdich and fill them yourselves!

Amy worked as a tour guide over the summer before heading off to Jordanhill College to do teacher training ~ she got her own Still Game bottle ~ even more exclusive than mine…..

Her bottle has a picture of herself and apprentice blender, Adam Hannett on it ~ and was signed by everyone in the distillery ~

Amy's Still Games BottleAmy's Bottle

 This is a very strong, dryish dram. I bought it on spec because I loved the wit of the name ~ I haven’t even tasted it…..

So, tasting notes are welome!

Whisky for Girls (& Guys!) had a great time, thanks to Raymondo for taking our video and for looking after us so well, and thanks to all at Bruichladdich for your wit ~ greatly appreciated in these days of such troubles in the world.

We look forward to the next Valinch cask, and hope the name and label makes us laugh as much as this one has ~ it is true what they say:

~ wit sells…….!

http://youtu.be/RGY0GNhT3ys

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Oct. 20.

Two Drams

Two Drams ~  Bruichladdich Black Art 3  and Ardbeg 10 year old.

What makes a good dram? Is this a different question than what makes a dram good for you?

Yes, I think it is.

We can talk about whisky the way we talk about art.

There is good art and bad art, and there is art you like ~  if you happen to like good art then you can feel very smug.   

It can be the same with whisky. There are good drams and bad drams and there are drams you like (the smugness adage applies…..)

There are many debates over the criteria we use to evaluate what constitutes good art. But I haven’t heard many discussions about the  criteria we use to evaluate a good dram.

We take the criteria we use to evaluate a good dram for granted. We say this is a good dram, that is a good dram. We discuss the dram. But we have already implicitly agreed on what are good elements. We don’t often discuss our how we decided on our premise.

We say that a good dram must be balanced, I agree.  However, we tend to perceive of balance in predominately one way:  as an unfolding of notes and tastes through a duration in time.

 A good dram is usually perceived of as a finely tuned intellectual chess game of a dram. It is conceived of as a journey where the dram unfolds like a musical score, with layers and repetitions, and agreeable harmonising of tastes and notes in a controlled, timely way. A dram like the SMWS’s Audrey Hepburn in a ball gown.

A dram like  Ardbeg 10 years old.

 

I agree with this.

However, should good balance be perceived only as controlled unfolding in length over time?  Why can’t balance be given status and value in another continuum?

If we take it for granted that our perception of the structure of a good dram is like the above, then we automatically assume that a whisky not fulfilling this criteria is less good ~ it becomes, by default, a bad whisky.

 It is a question of thinking differently, ~ for example, most people say that the opposite of LOVE is HATE, but others, due to their perception of things, say that the opposite of LOVE is INDIFFERENCE.

Who is to say which perception is superior, and when is authority bestowed upon one’s assumption that their way is the best?

The point of all this  ‘assuming’ and ‘loving or hating’,  is to make a case in point with the whiskies of Bruichladdich Black Art and Ardbeg 10 year old.

By looking at things in a different way, the balance of Black Art can be seen to be equivalent to that of Ardbeg 10 year old.

The huge nose and taste of Black Art creates such an enormous sensation that if carried on for a long time could be too much, too over whelming. Drinking this is like diving naked off the high board into a swimming pool of velvet. One has a great initial sensate experience. One is engulfed in sensation.

The Ardbeg is not like that. The Ardbeg is a beautifully controlled journey, with the sensations unfolding harmonically through time.

But who can say which experience is superior? In one expression the experience unfolds through time, in the other the experience occurs all at once.

The point is that both drams can be seen as well balanced ~  for what is given.  The Black Art gives the 100% all in one go, the Ardbeg rolls it out a % at a time. The balance is inherent in the EVENT of the drink. You can’t have a one hundred percent experience going on for a few seconds otherwise it wouldn’t be 100%.

In Black Art we experience 360 degrees of sensation immediately. In Ardbeg 10 year old, we experience the 360 degrees as a linear journey.

Do we only regard a dram as good if it fulfils a defined structure? When and who elevated the specific architecture of one dram over another?

Drinking whisky is about the pleasure of the experience. When did we decide that pleasure drunk in one way is superior to that of pleasure drunk in another?

This does not mean that all drams are created equal ~ they are not, some are very good and some can be bad.

 But thinking about the structure of a dram and ones unacknowledged assumptions is certainly a good point for discussion when next partaking of the water of life!

Slainte!

 

 

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Whisky For Girls ~ washbacks to slingbacks 009
Jul. 20.

BRUICHLADDICH IS BREAKING HEARTS

Don’t be broken hearted about Bruichladdich.

 

What an amazing job Bruichladdich have done in winning hearts and minds. Their customers feel an intense loyalty and have a huge feeling of ownership. They are like football club fans.

Football clubs change all the time. New players, new managers, new strategies and yet the fans stay with them, stay loyal. The fans are staying loyal to something inside themselves, it is from within themselves the passion is generated. The club is merely the medium which allows this intrinsic feeling expression.

 Bruichladdich Distillery has managed to generate the same love and passion. Indeed, they are like a football team with their very, very tight corporate branding image ~ their team T shirts, and with McEwan as the charismatic club manager.

 

Distilleries are set up to make money. People may have a passion for their chosen way of making money, but if they weren’t going to make money they wouldn’t do it.

Schroder and MacTaggart both invested in Bruichladdich, these are estate owners in Islay. Schroder is Schroders private bank ~ have you ever heard of a banker with passion or sentiment? If Bruichladdich Distillery wasn’t seen as a good money making investment Schroder would never have invested. There is no sentiment or love of Islay  in a bankers investment portfolio!

 Jim McEwan is retiring next year ~ retiring from Bruichladdich that is. McEwan has plans of his own ~ he is on the next stage of his life journey with whisky. He is planning to travel the world with a Spirit Aid show. He will be like a rock star, he will be like ‘The Boss’ but singing the praises of Scotch Whisky.

Mark Reynier’s family are growing up, his children are moving off the island to be educated, his personal life is changing.

These men involved with Bruichladdich are business men. They saw a great opportunity, they showed the world what they could do. They were unusual and quirky ~ yes, because they had to be, they worked with what they could afford. They were innovative ~ yes…. How do we generate an income while we wait for our whisky to mature? Lets make lots of different expressions, let’s do this and do that, so we have a product to sell. (I’ll not tell the joke here in this serious article, about Iain Allan’s dog, and the gate of the distillery, then the creation of a new expression!)

They had to do something to generate an income for themselves. And in doing so they opened up the world of whisky. Never a truer example of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ than Bruichladdich. No one can wait 10 years for a return on their new project ~ unless one is a nuclear power station perhaps.

 Bruichladdich’s best thing (apart from their drams ~ and McEwan, of course) is their brand image. How clever to make something as tightly branded as say, Coca Cola or Nike, appear so rural and authentic. I’m not saying it is not authentic, but to create such a defined ACCESSIBLE homespun corporate image is very, very clever. Bruichladdich made people fall in love with them. They used the rules of corporate branding to create an image of exactly the opposite. It’s like Ardfin Gardens in Jura  ~ Peter Cool worked very hard to achieve the feeling of a wild, untamed garden. This is far harder to achieve than merely making a tidy, conventional garden.

As Martha Beck says, the future is small, individual, unusual, different things. We all have access to everything now. People are jaded. They want unique, special, crafted things. The business thinkers of the world know this. This is forward thinking, seeing future trends.

We can push into new markets such as Brazil and Africa and sell large amounts of gut rot to poor people, which, shamefully, numerous large spirit producers will. But the future of Scottish Malt Whisky is in small unique brands, and Remy Cointreau have seen this in Bruichladdich. Remy Cointreau do not have a champagne house on their portfolio and I think Bruichladdich can fulfill that unique, quality role for them.  Bruichladdich, or indeed Bruichladdich and a new Port Charlotte combined cannot make much difference to Remy Cointreau’s bottom line. There is not the physical space or transport infrastructure to generate huge amounts of spirit. And if that is what Remy want to do they would have bought a large Coffey stilled plant on the mainland. Islay Whisky is a distinct brand in itself, one has to pay just for access to that now.

Remy are looking to the future. It’s not the customer who has to worry about change of ownership, it’s the workers at the distillery ~ let’s hope Remy will at least pay lip service to the family orientated way this working environment has been run for the last 10 years or so.

Bruichladdich has been an adventure for Mark Reynier, Jim McEwan et al, albeit a heartfelt one, but at the end of the day these guys don’t stand still. They had a business idea, they took it to THEIR chosen level of fruition, and like a football club, or a river, or the concept of royalty, Bruichladdich will flow on, ever changing, ever the same.

If they were romantic, sentimental idealists they would have never managed to turn £6 million into £48 million in 10 years ~ The people at Bruichladdich Distillery truly are alchemists!

 Bruichladdich Is Dead. Long Live Bruichladdich

 

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SLIDERIMAGE 2
May. 19.

WHISKY FOR GIRLS SONG

Whisky for Girls have had a song written specially for us.

The very talented singer songwriter Pauline Bradley https://www.facebook.com/Pozzyb 

 

has written a song for us called Whisky for the Girls

It is sung to the tune of Whiskey in the Jar ~ and it is great!

It tells the story of a girl meeting Captain Flannel and he takes her to a party,  but he is a bit salacious,  and  there is no whisky, so she leaves.

She travels further and meets a guy who takes her to an ale house but still no use as there is no whisky, so she leaves.

She then sees a woman standing like an angel with a glass of whisky, or is she a rebel?

So, she follows her and goes to a brilliant party where they are laughing and dancing and drinking whisky.

And they sing ~ It’s Whisky for the Girls!

Pauline came to Islay for a couple of days this week, had a tour round the distilleries and sampled a few choice drams.

She played music where ever she went. We had a wonderful time.

Whisky for Girls and Pauline intend to record the song ~  perhaps with a couple of skirls of the pipes thrown in for good measure.

The song will be available on cd and as an internet down load.

 We will keep you posted as to when it will be available to purchase.

Whisky for Girls thank Pauline Bradley very much for writing this wonderful song for us ~ and more importantly;  becoming our friend.

We will be singing this song for years to come ~ in Islay and all over the world!

 Myself and Pauline toasting the song @ Bruichladdich Distillery. Notice the piece of paper on the table near Pauline’s hand?  ~ That is the very special song sheet!

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