At my local liquor mart, I came across a bottle of Bruichladdich Rocks. Now, I am quite partial to Bruichladdich, a distillery with a long history. The distillery was built in 1881 in westernmost part of the island of Islay with a state-of-the-art design that used tall and narrow-necked stills in production, the opposite of the styles produced by the older farm distilleries on Islay. Bruichladdich was run by William Harvey for over fifty years and then after his death spent the next forty changing owners several times as a result of corporate take-overs and rationalization within the industry. The distillery was finally closed in 1994, when it was shut down as being ‘surplus to requirements’.
Fortunately, the distillery was purchased by a group of private investors led by Mark Reynier of Murray McDavid in 2000. And in a brilliant move, the renowned master distiller, Jim McEwan, was lured away from Bowmore Distillery and hired as Production Director. Over the first few months of 2001, the whole distillery was dismantled and reassembled, with the original Victorian décor and most of the original equipment retained. Today, it remains one of the few independent distillers in the region with annual capacity of just under 400,000 gallons and releases whisky under the names of Bruichladdich (unpeated), Port Charlotte (peated) and two super peated brands Octomore “Orpheus” (with peat at 140 ppm or 3 times the peat) and Octomore 3 ( with peat at 152 ppm).
As far as my taste, I tend to avoid the peated whiskies, so the Port Charlotte and the Octomore peat monsters would not be my first choice. But, the Bruichladdich, now that was a pleasant discovery and I have the ROK and Miracle Max to thank for my first few drops. I enjoyed the first taste so much; I have purchased three bottles, The Bruichladdich 12, the Bruichladdich Links and now the Bruichladdich Rocks. The Rocks is a multi-vintage whisky with an amber appearance and a nose that mixes in fruit (apples, apricots), vanilla and spice (a little hint of pepper). With water, the whisky opens up a sweeter and more floral note but maintains its exceptional flavor and smooth finish. I thoroughly enjoyed this whisky and look forward to sampling the other bottles on the shelf at my local liquor store.