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Unravelling the Bruichladdich Enigma with Abigail Clephane

Updated: Oct 26, 2023

In the realm of spirits, few names command the same reverence as Bruichladdich, particularly its renowned Octomore series. This smoky elixir has garnered a near-cult following, and for good reason. The combination of the earth's smokiest whisky and a hoppy IPA has the power to transform any evening into an unforgettable experience.

For those who appreciate the finer complexities of whisky, especially when it comes to unpeated elixirs in a region that is predominantly characterised by a focus on peat, Bruichladdich is a name that resonates profoundly. The distillery's journey, since its renaissance in 2001, has transcended the conventional notion of merely crafting and selling single malt Scotch whisky. It's become a beacon of change, a tribute to the age-old art of distillation without being bound by its traditions.

As Progressive Hebridean Distillers, the mission of Bruichladdich was to pioneer, provoke, and transform by rekindling the connection between the land and the dram. They dared to question the industry's established norms, pondering where true flavour originates and recognizing the significance of agricultural ecosystems in the whisky-making process.

So, it's no surprise that the announcement of a visit from Scotland-born Abigail Clephane, a luminary and ambassador of Bruichladdich, would set the calendar of whisky enthusiasts abuzz.

Abigail Clephane is not just a brand ambassador; she embodies the very essence of Bruichladdich. Just as the distillery has been a trailblazer in the world of whisky, challenging conventions and rewriting the script, Abigail is a force of change within the whisky industry. Her journey, from an enthusiast to a brand ambassador, is a testament to her unwavering dedication, thirst for knowledge, and deep love for Scotland's liquid gold.

Abigail's love affair with whisky began as a casual dalliance but quickly evolved into an insatiable pursuit of understanding the intricacies of this golden elixir. She delved deep into the world of whisky, immersing herself in its art, from the distillation process to the alchemy of aging.

This journey led her to Bruichladdich, a distillery known for its reverence for terroir, transparency, and innovation. Abigail eloquently describes Bruichladdich as a distillery with a soul – a place that doesn't just make whisky but crafts experiences.

As a brand ambassador, Abigail's role is multi-faceted, much like the layers of flavours in a fine Scotch. She's not just a spokesperson; she's a storyteller, sharing the heart and soul of Bruichladdich with whisky enthusiasts and newcomers alike. She takes them on a sensory voyage, allowing them to savour the essence of Islay in every sip – the sea, the soil, and the very spirit of the island.

But Abigail's work extends beyond the world of whisky aficionados. She's dismantling the barriers that have long shrouded whisky, making it accessible to all. Her approach is welcoming and grounded, ensuring that the world of whisky becomes more inclusive for everyone, regardless of their level of expertise.

Abigail Clephane's passion for Bruichladdich transcends the distillery. She's not just an ambassador; she's a fervent advocate for the values that Bruichladdich holds dear. Sustainability, terroir, and the art of slow distillation are not just buzzwords to her; they're the very foundation of her philosophy.

It's the culmination of Abigail's knowledge, her passion, and her unwavering commitment that sets her apart in the world of Scotch whisky. She's not merely introducing people to a brand; she's inviting them to join a movement, to embrace a way of life that revels in complexity and the sheer joy of discovery.

Amidst a hectic schedule filled with events she masterfully hosted during her stay down under, Abigail proved to be highly engaging, approachable, and grounded. She adeptly answered the queries of seasoned aficionados, weaving her responses with humorous anecdotes and intriguing facts. Yet, she effortlessly kindled the curiosity of those uninitiated to the world of Bruichladdich.

In a world of whisky, Abigail Clephane and Bruichladdich are not just rewriting the script; they're crafting an entirely new narrative, one that beckons all to explore the profound depths of complexity and flavour

Amidst the peat-laden casks of whisky, a botanical alchemist known as The Botanist Gin has emerged from the progressive distillery of Bruichladdich, proving that Islay is not just about whisky.

As a testament to Bruichladdich's commitment to terroir, people, and provenance, The Botanist Gin is a testament to their dedication to crafting exceptional libations. Distilled in their distinctive 'ugly betty' still, a copper behemoth that resembles an oversized upside-down dustbin, this gin is a true masterpiece. But The Botanist Gin doesn't just captivate with its contents; its packaging is an aesthetic marvel.

Beneath the beautifully designed label lies a gin that combines style with substance. At a proper ABV, The Botanist Gin is a world-class spirit that marries 31 botanicals, with 22 of them foraged from the native flora of Islay. The gin reads like a love letter to the island's botanical riches, featuring a symphony of ingredients that create a harmonious accord. From angelica root to orange peel, and from meadow sweet to chamomile, each botanical contributes to a complexity that is nothing short of a flavour extravaganza.

The nose of The Botanist Gin is a revelation for those who believe that an abundance of botanicals sacrifices the classic gin essence. Here, juniper takes centre stage, dancing with notes of lemon and orange zest. Hints of meadowsweet and woodruff add depth, making it a gin aficionado's dream.

On the palate, the spirit showcases a slightly oily texture, beautifully coating the palate. The initial coolness gives way to a growing warmth, underpinned by citrus notes that maintain a refreshing character. Long and graced with a touch of spice, it's a testament to the botanical symphony playing within the gin's depths.

The journey continues with a delightful encounter with the floral notes of woodruff and chamomile, all complemented by herbs de provence. A late juniper flourish, reminiscent of a pine forest, merges with hints of vanilla cream, liquorice, and birch bark. The finish, long and fairly dry, carries a gentle astringency, inviting you to take another sip.

In the world of gin, where some brands cram in countless botanicals to vie for attention, The Botanist Gin takes a different path. It's a focused spirit, surprising the palate in the manner of a well-composed perfume – a sensory experience that captures the very essence of Islay.

As the journey unfolds, there's much more to explore, including the enticing depths of Port Charlotte, a topic we'll delve into more deeply in our Libations series, as well as a deep dive on the alchemical masterpiece that is Octomore as soon as the 14 series becomes available on terra australis.


Words by AW.

Photos courtesy of AW and Bruichladdich.


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