Three Years 2012

Duncan Mc Gillivray
Photo: Duncan Mc Gillivray inspecting the barley

7 September 2012, From spirit to Whisky

On this day our whisky was 3 years and 6 days of age. Only 6 days before the spirit officially became whisky, a bit like turning 21 for a human being. To celebrate that occasion we traveled to Islay on its birthday: the 1st. Beforehand we had booked a B&B by the name of Coultorsay House at a stones throw from Bruichladdich distillery.

Now....for those who don’t know, Bruichladdich is a tiny cluster of houses. It’s hard to call it a village, but it still is. No wonder that during our stay the owner Hilary told us that her husband John was a cousin of the distillery manager: Duncan Mc Gillivray. She had plenty of stories about the distillery. Her sons both even got a cask from some of the first batches after the distillery opened up again.

So on the morning that we had our appointment at the Distillery; Hilary asked us to give her regards to Duncan....and indeed, it was Duncan who introduced himself as the person to bring us to our cask, and drive us to the warehouses that are a mere 100 meters behind the distillery. Once we got into the warehouse our eyes tried to adjust to the darkness inside. Rows and rows of casks were in every direction we looked. Duncan walked in, looking left, and looking to the right, he seemed unsure of himself.

But after a short while he, surprisingly fast for his apparent age, climbed up to the top of a three layers high wall of whisky casks and started using the so called "bung puller" to remove the wooden plug that closes the +-8 cm round opening in the side of the cask. Our hopes were high, it was an exciting moment. I was so unlucky to have a wee cold and therefor my taste buds and nose would not be in perfect tasting order.

Jim Mc Ewan
Photo: Jim Mc Ewan in the warehouse.

Duncan stuck the copper "Whisky Thief" into the barrel and extracted a shot then asked me to hold up my glass, he pointed at the glass and removed his finger from the small hole on the whisky thief. He missed the mark and half of it ran into the sleeve of my rain coat, but enough got into the glass. I rolled the whisky in the glass, had a look at the color, it seemed to have more color than I remembered and a nice viscosity, I had my first nip of it and with my blocked nose I was still surprised that not even the peat shone could that be true. Elaine had a taste too and noted the same. Duncan must have noticed our surprised reaction from atop the whisky barrels and asked the warehouse employee. Then we noticed the markings on the cask: 2002 in big enough blue lettering. We all laughed.

Our cask was a bit more to the left. The big measure of whisky was transferred into a sample bottle that we could keep. Our own whisky was grand and Elaine was able to fully taste and appreciate it at this young age.

When we got back to the visitor center we were so lucky to run into Jim McEwan the man who had created this expression. Jim is a bit like a Whisky rockstar, he talks easy and as soon as he is spotted all attention in the room is diverted to him. And as you do as a start to sign the sample bottles with a glittery silver marker, but not before he had removed the black screw top and dipped his finger into the whisky to exclaim: "Ohh this is a magnificent dram, beautiful" with a glitter in his eyes. After he signed our bottle he requested 1 pound which he would put into a childrens project in a farway country. In previous years he had collected a few thousand euros in this manner.