At first the nose is dominated by cereal, porridge oats, malty notes but quickly followed by intense fruit, ripe pear and peaches in syrup, lemon meringue pie. There is a fresh breezy quality like fresh linen. The oak brings honey, vanilla, coconut and hints of cinder toffee and fudge. As time opens this unique dram up, the peach notes become all enveloping and anything else is had to find.
Back to the malted barley on the palate, the texture is like honey, rich and incredibly viscous. A range of sweet fruit and oak notes jostle for position, peaches in syrup again, honey, chocolate, cinder toffee and apricot jam, there is an amazing sweetness from the oak and malt that is unlike any other spirit we make, the Bere barley gives so much intensity of flavour and the spirit has drawn deep from the wood in the last eight years.
On the finish there is an air of gentle grace as the softness of the fruit continues, pear and apple come through with the peach notes and offer another dimension. The oak and malt fade away slowly and leave you to contemplate an incredible experience.
An absolute delight to behold, from the outstanding texture to the intensity of the fruit, this ancient grain yet again confirms our barley exploration is based on distillation for flavour not yield. This particular vintage has an intensity and range of flavour I have seldom seen before but inspires us yet again to continue our journey.
Bere Barley is a six-row heritage variety that has long since been forgotten from the modern world of standardised whisky making. Its revival into present day has taken effort and resilience from an entire network of millers, growers and agronomists. Our Bere project is dedicated to those like-minded souls, who have preserved a legacy and found modern applications in flavourful food and drinks, whatever the odds. This Bruichladdich Bere Barley was distilled in 2010 from a 2009 harvest, brought home by Peter, John, Magnus, Sydney and Duncan on the Orkney Islands.
Bere barley is one of the most interesting grains still cultivated in the modern day. The antecedents of Bere reach back to the dawn of Scottish agriculture, around 4,500 years ago. The grain would have been a staple part of the Scottish diet for thousands of years and was used by Scottish generations to make beer, bannocks and bread.
Long since forgotten from the recommended growing list, Bere is now considered obsolete by most distillers due to its desperately low yield. Farmers can expect 50% less grain from this six-row variety than a modern crop.
Other than its unique flavour profile, Bere is significant for barley academics. Given its unique functions such as long straw and ability to grow in poor soils, it is thought that by keeping Bere in commercial application, its genetic code is preserved in the seeds and could therefore be used for cross-breeding with modern varietals in the future.
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