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Bruichladdich Unveils First Rye Whisky From Islay

Bruichladdich Regeneration Project

Bruichladdich Distillery has unveiled the first whisky to be classed as an Islay single grain Scotch. The third release in the Bruichladdich Project series: The Regeneration Project, the offering is made primarily from locally grown Islay rye, a first for both the distillery and the island.

Bruichladdich Regeneration Project
Bruichladdich Regeneration Project

The Bruichladdich Regeneration Project was born out of a desire to combat the growing cost of agro-chemicals, avoid monoculture, reduce input and diversify crops. This has been done by implementing crop rotation on the land of the distillery’s long-standing farming partner, Andrew Jones. He added rye to his rotation because it has the ability to sequester excess soil nitrate and boasts a fibrous root system that increases soil drainage, helping to conserve moisture. This improves soil health and reduces costs for the farmer by being less reliant on artificial pesticides and fertilizers.

While rye has never been grown in Islay before, Bruichladdich agreed to purchase Jones’ entire crop and turn it into whisky.

“As a whisky distillery we are accountable for our impact from the ground up, and that starts with understanding where our essential raw ingredients come from, and how they are grown,” said Douglas Taylor, CEO at Bruichladdich Distillery. “We learned that rye is a hugely beneficial rotational crop which not only reduces the need for artificial input but improves soil health and structure – which matters.

“But with no market for Scottish grown rye, it begs the question – why would a farmer grow it? Well, we could buy it – and create a delicious whisky. All while supporting our vital farming partners, helping the environment and promoting soil health. Pursuing flavor while reducing our impact, The Regeneration Project is the start of something much bigger than whisky.”

Bottled at 50% ABV, The Regeneration Project Islay Single Grain Scotch Whisky is made up of 55% Islay grown rye and 45% locally grown Islay malted barley. The whisky was aged in a mix of first fill bourbon casks and first fill American virgin oak casks and is fully traceable.

Arriving as golden syrup in color, notes of are immediately detectable on the nose, accompanied with waves of liquorice, black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg which also the ‘unique characteristics’ that rye brings to the whisky. Elsewhere, it offers maritime notes of the ocean, warm sand, and delicate citrus and honey. The palate delicately balance a soft texture alongside rye’s spicy, peppery heat. Toasted virgin oak brings sweetness of marzipan, vanilla, and chocolate, all of which complements the spice of the rye and the citrus green fruit notes of the Islay grown barley. The finish finds notes of vanilla custard and pastry.

The Bruichladdich Regeneration Project is part of a small batch of 1,800 bottles. Priced at £125 ($153 USD), it is available online via the brand’s official website.

Last month, Bruichladdich Distillery unveiled its Port Charlotte Islay Barley 2014.