Kelefa Sanneh on the resurrection of the Bruichladdich whisky distillery on the Scottish island of Islay:
Scotland is the undisputed whisky capital of the world, producing
nearly two-thirds of the global supply, and Islay is the highly
disputed capital of Scottish whisky. The island has thirty-five
hundred residents and eight working distilleries; there is surely
no place that produces more great whisky per capita, and possibly
no place that produces more great whisky, full stop. To rebuild
Bruichladdich, Reynier recruited a native Ileach: Jim McEwan, a
whisky celebrity who had spent his career at Bowmore, a venerable
distillery that faces Bruichladdich from across a coastal inlet.
Bowmore makes whisky that bears smoky traces of burning peat,
which was once Islay’s main fuel source and is now the signature
flavor of Islay whisky. The island’s best-known distillery is
probably Laphroaig, whose flagship dram is pungently smoky and
startlingly medicinal, with a flavor that is sometimes compared to
TCP, a European antiseptic. In reasonable doses and proper
circumstances, Laphroaig can be delicious, but its popularity is a
mixed blessing for the industry, because whisky neophytes who try
Laphroaig and hate it may never return.
Bruichladdich is nearly smoke-free, which is a big reason that
Reynier fell for it.
It’s a great story and sounded like great whisky, so I had to try it. I was right — it’s damn good.