Once a producer of decent but unexceptional lighter-style, unpeated Islay malt - favoured among others by Francis Urquhart in the BBC Original ‘House of Cards’ - Bruichladdich has undergone a transformation since being bought and reopened by veteran Islay distiller Jim McEwan. They are now the foremost name among “Progressive Hebridean Distillers”: as if their unorthodox bright turquoise matte bottles and unusual small-batch “valinch” and “cuvee” bottlings weren't enough to set them apart from the crowd, image-wise at least, their recent releases have put all other “experimental” distillers to shame. Not content with merely using different cask finishes or peating levels, Bruichladdich have pioneered the use of different barley strains and sources, even labelling their bottles with the individual farms where their grain is grown, in pursuit of their exploration of the unique expression of “terroir”. To keep track of their ever-expanding range of releases, and in tribute to long-passed Islay history, they have resurrected the names of two dead neighbouring distilleries: since 2006, all bottles labelled simply “Bruichladdich” are unpeated, while “Port Charlotte” is a classic Islay-style peated dram, and “Octomore” pushes the bar further than any other whisky when it comes to phenomenally high peating levels, producing the smokiest whisky in the world by a considerable margin.
Though no longer independently-owned, having been bought by Rémy Cointreau in 2012, Bruichladdich continues to push the boundaries of single malt Scotch whisky more than any other name in the industry. The popular “Botanist” gin, produced with local island botanicals, is also produced at the distillery.