A Bere Market
The market went from bull to bear over the last week, but don't let that get you down. The new 2008 vintage of Bere Barley from Bruichladdich should help erase all your fears and ease any of your long-term doubts. Bottled in 2017, this nine year old edition is bottled at 100 proof and is made from the old "viking" grain, now grown for Bruichladdich on Islay at the nearby Dunlossit farm. I dug out my original email from Jim McEwan, back when they originally unveiled the Bere Barley project some time ago, made from an ancient strain supposedly brought by Norse invaders when they occupied the Hebrides during the 9th century. Here's what Jim told me back then:
The Bere is so young and pure, no make-up just as nature intended. Its history, honesty, and the harmony of guys working on a dream which the consumer can experience and wonder just how the seed survived since the 9th century, brought by the Vikings to Scotland. What a living timeline!!!!! It's incredible and once again it's Bruichladdich that recognised this is a national treasure and cannot be compared. A miracle in a bottle from a seed that was planted over 1000 years ago.
As you might imagine, Bruichladdich doesn't want a lot of oak or sherry getting in the way of their superstar barley, so the 2008 edition is light on its feet. The nose is wonderful, full of sweet grains, lush vanilla, and lots of oak spice. The palate is more of the same with notes of ginger and sweet bready notes on the finish. I think growing and milling the Bere strain has been the hardest part of the process for Bruichladdich. They've been doing this since 2006 and they've only managed five successful harvests over the last decade, meaning there's not a lot of this whisky in barrel. The first time they tried to mill it, the toughness of the dense grist about broke all their equipment!
This is probably more for serious Bruichladdich fanboys like myself that those of you looking for the next rare superstar. This isn't a big, thick, heavy, or mouthcoating whisky. It's all about the nuances of the grain and how it presents a different profile compared to the standard barley strain used in Scotland. This is one of the few concept projects that I think lives up to the story and I always look forward to another new release.