The Islay distillery has recently unveiled The Regeneration Project, the third release in Bruichladdich Project series
This latest Bruichladdich launch is an Islay whisky made primarily from locally grown, Islay rye - a first for the distillery, the Hebridean island, and the first whisky to be classed as an Islay Single Grain Scotch Whisky.
The Regeneration Project started in 2016 when Bruichladdich’s production director, Allan Logan, and long-standing farming partner, Andrew Jones, had a conversation on how crop rotation could be beneficial for Andrew’s land at Coull Farm.
Keen to combat the growing cost of agro-chemicals, avoid monoculture, reduce input and diversify his crops, Andrew decided to add rye to his rotation.
Rye has the ability to sequester excess soil nitrate and its fibrous root system increases soil drainage, helping to conserve moisture.
Not only does this improve soil health, but it reduces costs for the farmer by being less reliant on artificial pesticides and fertilisers.
With no market, rye has never been commercially grown in Islay before. But keen to support its farming partner, Bruichladdich agreed to purchase Andrew’s entire crop if he was going to trial the alternative grain – and turn it into whisky.
Commenting on the launch, Douglas Taylor, CEO at Bruichladdich Distillery, said: “As a whisky distillery we are accountable for our impact from the ground up, and that starts with understanding where our essential raw ingredients come from, and how they are grown.
“We learned that rye is a hugely beneficial rotational crop which not only reduces the need for artificial input but improves soil health and structure - which matters.
“But with no market for Scottish grown rye, it begs the question - why would a farmer grow it? Well, we could buy it - and create a delicious whisky. All while supporting our vital farming partners, helping the environment and promoting soil health.
“Pursuing flavour while reducing our impact, The Regeneration Project is the start of something much bigger than whisky.”
Aiming to create the world's most thought-provoking spirits, the latest innovation from Bruichladdich Distillery is an example of how regenerative agricultural practices can positively impact both the planet and the flavour of whisky.
With sustainability at the forefront, The Regeneration Project is testament to the distillery's vision to use its business as a force for good. In May 2020 Bruichladdich became the first Scotch whisky and gin distillery in Europe to become B Corp certified.
As the subject of climate change and support of the farming industry becomes more prominent, regenerative agriculture has the power to play a significant role in the sustainability of Scotch whisky and the soil health of its farming partners.
Although rye is more common in American whiskey production, making up approximately 5% of the value of total US whiskey, consumers around the world are continuing to explore the flavours of a more diverse set of grains.
Currently, there has been little experimentation in Scottish Rye, with only a small number of distilleries releasing a rye whisky.
Bruichladdich hopes that the latest release will push the conversation further on the subject of regenerative agriculture and finding alternative solutions to modern farming practices.
Douglas Taylor continued: “As whisky makers, we must advocate and demonstrate how to keep value in the community, making sure we are doing all we can to help support our vital farming partners.”
Bottled at 50% ABV, The Regeneration Project is made up of 55% Islay grown rye and 45% locally grown Islay malted barley.
Using a mix of first fill bourbon casks and first fill American Virgin oak casks, the whisky is non-chill filtered, colouring free and fully traceable.
A first for Bruichladdich Distillery, The Regeneration Project tasting notes include: peppery heat and waves of liquorice from the rye immediately come to the fore, balanced with a subtle maritime quality that, the team say, speaks of the whisky’s all Islay maturation.
The Regeneration Project is part of a small batch of 1,800 bottles. Priced at £125 it is available online at the Bruichladdich website.