Bruichladdich has just announced the release of the first-ever Biodynamic Scotch whisky. The single malt is part of the distillery’s The Biodynamic Project. Harvested in 2010 and distilled in 2011, a total of 5,000 bottles will be put up for sale on the distillery’s website on November 16th.
Biodynamic whisky is hugely fascinating mainly because of all the time, effort and passion that goes into growing biodynamic barley. I recently went into this when reviewing the Waterford Luna 1.1, the first-ever biodynamic whisky in the world. But I’ll quickly summarize what I wrote then.
The principle of biodynamics was developed in 1924 by Dr Rudolph Steiner. The methodology is quite esoteric and includes packing dung into cow horn and burying it, only to later dig it up and use it as root-stimulating spray. But biodynamics is all about being in tune with nature. Most importantly is that it’s always done from a philosophy of sustainability. In the end biodynamics is all about a healthy soil.
Obviously it is not a coincidence that the only two distilleries in the world with biodynamic whisky have a connection to Mark Reynier. Waterford is currently owned by him, while the first biodynamic whisky at Bruichladdich was distilled back when Reynier was still in charge (he sold his share in 2012).
Reynier has decades of experience in the wine trade, which is where he first learned about biodynamics. Many elite wine growers in France apply biodynamic principles to nurture the soil in the belief that they improve the quality of the raw ingredient, resulting in a superior flavour.
The Biodynamic Project
Bruichladdich The Biodynamic Project (which is how the whisky will be called officially) started its journey at Yatesbury House Farm, which is farmed by Dr Richard Gantlett. The farm is located in England and it is the only non-Scottish barley used by Bruichladdich, because biodynamic barley farmers are far and few between.
“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”, explains Bruichladdich’s head distiller Adam Hannett. “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.”
“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.”
I had a sneak preview of Bruichladdich’s biodynamic whisky during the Feis Ile Masterclass earlier this year and was very happy with what I experienced. I didn’t know Bruichladdich was going to release The Biodynamic Project this year, but now that I do, I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle.
Since it will only be sold on the distillery’s website, I suppose I’ll have to brave the post-Brexit import duties for the first time. Bruichladdich The Biodynamic Project is released at £100 and (as mentioned before) will be available from the 16th November 2021. The whisky matured exclusively in first-fill bourbon casks and is bottled at the 50% abv.