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Bruichladdich proves that the concept of 'terroir' is not exclusive to the world of wine. Islay Barley 2006 is the second release in the former Uber Provenance range. Islay Barley is the product from one farmer (John Logan of Dunlossit Farm), one barley variety (Chalice) and one field (Jubilee Field).
“We believe terroir matters”? One should start thinking it. They even provide you with a geographical description of the barley field (the eastern side of the island, at an elevation of 100 metres ).
In 2013 the Bruichladdich adapted its core strategy and goes full throttle on the concept of local barley. We should be seeing more “Islay Barley” and "Scottish Barley” in stores by now.
Tasting notes Color: Islay Barley 2006 is slightly paler then its nephew Bere Barley 2006. The pale straw colour confirms his pure and natural identity.
Nose: The nose is a mixture of yellow flowers and barley. A heather field with plenty of buttercup flowers. Also some vanilla sugar pudding and fresh green apples. Adding water unleashes a briny sea-breeze through a cherry orchard and at the same time brings up some sweeter notes. I'm thinking of some honey and gingerbread.
Taste: Sipping the whisky immediately creates a creamy mouthfeel. A freshly baked butter cake with cane sugar. There's still this distant salty note. The whisky is evolving towards oven-baked apples with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Finish: The finish is crisp and dry. Oak flavours and a hint of vanilla extend the pleasure of this piece of craftsmanship.
Conclusion: I'm not exactly the alternative type that frequents Oxfam stores, but Bruichladdich has convinced me with their organic approach. The 2006 Islay Barley has been replaced by a 2007 expression. The barley comes from Rockside Farm and is cultivated by Mark French.... Indeed, the terroir story again.
This Islay Barley is young but complex. If we can believe Master Distiller Jim McEwan, this whisky has truly captured the island's spirit. As long as I haven't been there, I'm taking it for granted.