Built in 1881 by the Harvey brothers, Bruichladdich sits on the north shore of Lochindaal on the island of Islay, close to the town of Port Charlotte, and directly opposite Bowmore distillery. For the first 60 years of its life, the spirit produced at Bruichladdich was mainly used for blending purposed, as the distillery endured different ownerships: whisky brokers Ross and Coutler in the 1950s, AB Grant in the 1960s, until Invergordon Distillers in the late 1960s. This last period of ownership provided much needed stability, until production was reduced throughout the 1980s, and Invergordon, along with Bruichladdich, was taken under the control of Whyte & Mackay in 1993. Deeming it surplus to requirements, the distillery was mothballed in 1995. In 2001, a group of Islay landowners partnered with Mark Reynier and Simon Caughlin, who had just sold their London wine business, La Reserve, to the Jeroboams Group, purchased the distillery. And so commenced Bruichladdich’s modern renaissance.
Producing bulk whisky for most of its history had left the quality of equipment, and the cask holding whisky, in a poor state. Re-racking was required for some casks—many going into fresh wood, ex-wine and ex-fortified wine casks—and much investment went into a new bottling line, which provided jobs for the locals. The distillery was nursed back to health, but still in need of significant investment. This came in 2012 when Rémy Cointreau purchased Bruichladdich. Attracted by the experimentation already underway—unusual finishings, a new gin and local barley—the money allowed Bruichladdich to flourish.
Bruichladdich is now home to four brands: Port Charlotte, Octomore, the Botanist gin and, its namesake, Bruichladdich. Each allow the team to explore different facets of what it means to be an island distillery on Islay. The Bruichladdich brand is the unpeated backbone of the whole operation, while Port Charlotte and Octomore explore peat in all its glory—the latter credited with taking peat to a whole new extreme. Locally-grown barley is of increasing significance, with the distillery acquiring new land on Islay and working with local farmers. In 2019, they announced plans to build their own maltings. Having some of the best spirit produced in Scotland helps Bruichladdich to make elegant, fruity and floral whiskies that each give a glimpse of the modern Islay.