Bruichladdich Inaugural Release From The Biodynamic Project - First Ever Biodynamic Scotch Whisky
What you need to know:
- Bruichladdich is releasing the inaugural bottling from its new The Biodynamic Project.
- Biodynamic is a concept much more popular in wines than it is in whisky, but in essence is about farming sustainably with minimal use of insecticides, and being aligned with the natural environment. Call it uber-organic.
- This bottling comes from the Yatesbury Farm in England and is the distillery's first use of non-Scottish barley. It was harvested in 2010, distilled in 2011, and matured in first-fill Bourbon casks, bottled at 50% ABV, with a total outturn of 5,000 bottles.
- It will be released via the distillery's website on November 16th 2021 at a price of 100 GBP.
- Personally, I really enjoyed Waterford's Luna 1.1 Biodynamic whisky and found it to be really clean and crisp in taste, but with an almost buttery texture.
- Could be the biodynamic barley? I'm not sure, but healthy farming = healthy barley = good whisky seems like a sound formula to me.
- Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Cop
The first ever biodynamic Scotch whisky. (Image Source: Yatesbury Farm, Bruichladdich)
Bruichladdich, the Scotch distillery that is perhaps most famous for either its aesthetic baby blue bottles (you could pass it off for being from Tiffany's) or its obsession with terroir, transparency and literally making whiskymaking a sheer science, is now soon to be the first to release a biodynamic Scotch whisky.
Now if you're familiar with the term "biodynamic", it is either because you're also into wine, or maybe you've seen the azure bottles that belong to Irish distillery Waterford, then again you might be a huge agriculture enthusiast; the first two are more likely.
No coincidence both biodynamic whiskies hail from Mark Reynier.
So now we have two biodynamic whiskies - Waterford and Bruichladdich. It probably isn't surprising then that they both bear the influence of Mark Reynier - the man who is often credited for revitalising Bruichladdich, and who has now moved on to the driverseat over at Waterford.
Biodynamic as a concept in its simplest is the focus on creating healthy soil for the harvesting of crops and to be more aligned with nature. There's a whole lot that goes into that, such as using cow horns for fertiliser, for a farm to qualify as biodynamic. This practice is actually most commonly found in the world of wines. Hence you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure that Mark Reynier actually got his start in wines! A great deal of his playbook when it comes to whiskies has been to export concepts used commonly in wines, such as terroir and biodynamic farming, to whiskymaking.
The man making us drink all these biodynamic whiskies! (Image Source: The Spirits Business)
So in summary, Mark Reynier is the man behind all of this!
Now that we've gotten the provenance (to use another wine concept) out of the way, let's take a look at Bruichladdich's new Biodynamic Project release.
This bottling is essentially the kickoff of the distillery's Biodynamic Project which as you might guess, focuses on the effect of biodynamically harvested barley on the distillery's whiskies.
Yatesbury Farm, the poor guy who was convinced to convert his farm into a biodynamic one. It's a whole lot of work! (Image Source: Yatesbury Farm)
The first bottling (this one) comes from Yatesbury House Farm, located in England, and run by Dr Richard Gantlett. As such, this will be one of the rare times Bruichladdich uses non-Scottish barley.
“When we started distilling our Organic, Islay-grown and Bere barley expressions, it was driven by the curiosity to seek new and diverse flavours in Scotch whisky.
We approached Richard and asked him to certify biodynamically with that same flavour mission in mind. Many years on, we are delighted to know the positive impact these grains have on the environment. They have been crucial to us further examining what crops we purchase and how they play a part in supporting regenerative agriculture.”
- Adam Hannett, Head Distillery of Bruichladdich
The bottling contains barley that was harvested in 2010 and distilled in 2011, with a total outturn of 5,000 bottles. The whisky was matured in first-fill Bourbon casks and bottled at 50% ABV.
While this will be the first official launch of The Biodynamic Project, the distillery actually snuck it into their Feis Ile tasting earlier in the year, albeit at a much higher abv of 60.9%.
(Image Source: Bruichladdich)
“The flavour of the biodynamic, from when it was first distilled through to maturation is superb. There is a wonderful elevation of the fruity character of Bruichladdich with the Biodynamic malt. Apple and pear notes on the spirit are intensified and with a little water the floral notes burst through, with lots of lilac, honeysuckle and rose. Texturally there is an extra depth which carries the flavours beautifully."
- Adam Hannett, Head Distillery of Bruichladdich
The bottle will go on sale via the distillery's website on November 16th 2021, priced at 100 GBP.
To give you some context as to why this is kinda a big deal, the term biodynamic truly does not carry the same weight in the whisky world as it does in the world of wine, where it is in fact given a premium.
Biodynamic wines are well within the norm, and even given a premium. (Image Source: Decanter)
This is because whisky, unlike wine, goes through distillation, which is to say the process does not stop at fermentation, after which wines are bottled for sale and continue to mature in the bottle. Because whiskies undergo distillation, this stops any additional maturation of organic material, which is stripped out at the distillation phase, and hence they don't further mature after bottling like wine.
As such, the effects of biodynamic practices is largely believed to be stripped out during the harsh distillation process and hence will not play any role in the final character of the whisky. Or perhaps simply too subtle a role.
Biodynamic practices can sometimes border the esoteric which is probably it loses some folks, but at the core it's just really about healthy soil, and who could argue with that? (Image Source: Vinepair)
But somehow the romantic in me somewhat believes that it's just intuitive that healthy soil = healthy barley = better quality whisky. But hey, that's just my take, I've never made whisky before!
To satisfy my curiosity, I actually tried Waterford's Luna 1.1 and actually enjoyed it quite a fair bit! I found it very robust, spritely, very clean, clear fruit notes, yet at the same time a very firm body, almost chewy, with malty biscuits and very buttery.
I think in truth, what makes biodynamic concepts harder to swallow is when it kind of goes into the whole area of lunar calendars and whatnot. The organic part, I find it hard to believe anyone could truly disagree.
In any case, our policy is "don't knock it till you try it".
Cop the Drop or Not Verdict: Cop
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