Bruichladdich launches first whisky made from Islay rye

The Regeneration Project is part of the Bruichladdich Projects series.


With social media posts and press releases, Bruichladdich Distillery spread a special news today: With "The Regeneration Project", they have released a whisky that was produced predominantly from Islay rye. It is the third edition in the series of Bruichladdich Projects, but the first whisky ever for which Islay rye has been used. Rye had never been grown for commercial use on the island before.

In 2016, Bruichladdich's production manager Allan Logan and farmer Andrew Jones had a conversation about how changing the rotation of crops in the fields at Coull Farm could reduce the need for agricultural chemicals. Jones decided to include rye in the crop rotation.

Supporting the partner farms

"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," said Douglas Tylor, CEO at Bruichladdich Distillery.

“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.”

On Bruichladdich's website we are told that the 2017 rye harvest took place in difficult climatic conditions, with wind and rain pushing the grain to the ground. 17 tonnes of rye was eventually harvested and they opted for a mashbill of 55% rye and 45% malted barley. "We have managed to create around 6,500 bulk litres and are filling a mixture of casks – first-fill bourbon and virgin American and European oak.," Allan Logan said.

Bruichladdich The Regeneration Project: single grain whisky made from rye and malted barley

Even though Bruichladdich The Regeneration Project uses 55% Islay rye and 45% malted barley from Islay, it is not a rye whisky, but a single grain whisky. The regulations only allow the designations malt whisky and grain whisky for Scotch whisky, even if it were 100% rye.

This whisky from Bruichladdich was bottled uncoloured and unchill filtered at 50% vol. A total of 1,800 bottles are available, but only via the Bruichladdich internet shop. The Bruichladdich The Regeneration Project costs 125 pounds.

Official Tasting Notes for the Bruichladdich The Regeneration Project

Colour: Golden syrup

Nose: Spice from the rye instantly comes through, accompanied with waves of liquorice, black pepper, cinnamon and nutmeg which also speak of the grain and showcase the unique characteristics that rye brings to the whisky. Toasted oak brings a resinous freshness, while chocolate limes add a touch of citrus to the heady mix. Over time the Islay character is unmistakable, defined by maritime notes of the ocean, warm sand and delicate citrus and honey.

Palate: The softness of the whisky is counterbalanced by the rye’s spicy, peppery heat. Toasted Virgin oak brings sweetness with marzipan, vanilla, and chocolate, beautifully complementing the spice of the rye and the citrus green fruit notes of the Islay grown barley. With real complexity, depth and contrast, a myriad of flavours are at play – each essential in telling the story of this unique exploration into distilling new grain.

Finish: While the nose and taste speak of the rye and its distinctive spicy, peppery profile, the finish is a homage to the oak, showcasing its delicate floral and fruity character. Sweet rich oak, ripe pear and green apple are followed by a delicate malty pastry, with vanilla custard settling on the finish.

Character: A whisky of risk and reward; of breaking new ground. A chance to test our skills as distillers, learning and trialling new techniques to coax spirit from this first Islay grown rye using our traditional Victorian equipment. We have been rewarded with a unique flavour profile unlike anything we have distilled before.

Images: Bruichladdich