Andrew Jefford writes: "Islay is a stone ship, slowly ploughing its way westwards across the Atlantic. Through high, rough latitudes: the rain falls by the pailful, by the curtainload. When the wind’s up, the rain comes at you brawling and flailing, as vicious as rice flung from the tattooed hands of a hooligan. That wind blows the rain into your joints, where it lurks. Then a night of frost falls, and the water freezes, and your joints are prised open, and that weighs on the spirit. There’s only one antidote: a dram of Islay malt.
Bruichladdich isn’t quite the prow of the ship, but it might be the bridge. This distillery sees a lot of weather dance by in twelve months. But they keep their spirits up, the folk on the bridge; there’s a jauntiness to the place, born of independence.
They cut free over a decade ago, and they’ve been jamming and busking and riffing ever since. Different peating levels, local barley, organics, biodynamics, craft distilling, water from the hill, wood from some of Europe’s best addresses, Islay ageing and bottling: they give it all a go. Not a brand, but people, ideas, skills and laughter. Not industry, but agriculture and craft. Not a destination, but a debate. Go and join in."
Currently based in Montpellier, France, International Wine Columnist of the Year Andrew Jefford writes on wine, whisky and whatever takes his fancy. Among his many books is the evocative Peat, Smoke and Spirit, a portrait of Islay and its whiskies