We get to know Islay whisky in an interview with Bruichladdich brand ambassador Chloe Wood
Bruichladdich (pronounced “brook-laddie”) is a distillery located on the Scottish Hebridean island of Islay, from which Bruichladdich unpeated whiskies are created in addition to Port Charlotte heavily peated whiskies, Octomore super heavily peated whiskies, and The Botanist Islay Dry Gin. Originally founded in 1881 and closed in the mid-1990s, the Bruichladdich distillery was revived in 2001 where it has been producing some of the world’s finest spirits since.
Born around the time that the distillery lay dormant, Bruichladdich Asia Pacific Brand Ambassador Chloe Wood’s life has been intertwined with the renaissance of the company. Wood’s family have farmed the land on Islay for decades, and almost 10 years ago began supplying and drying grain for the distillery, in addition to working various roles there. Her first job at Bruichladdich was working in the Laddie Shop which she refers to as “the University of learning for all things Bruichladdich”, before graduating onto hosting and running the academy there.
Now Wood is working from Singapore, where she spreads the Bruichladdich love throughout Asia Pacific, most recently bringing her passion to New Zealand, where Toast got the chance to ask her some super grueling questions, like which is her favourite Bruichladdich whisky!
Tell us about your role as Asia Pacific Brand Ambassador for PHD brands (which include Bruichladdich and The Botanist Gin)
It hardly seems fair classing it as a job as it allows me to travel over almost half the world, promoting not only Bruichladdich and The Botanist, but also where I come from, Islay. My role now is to educate our Bruichladdich drinkers on everything ‘Laddie’ and also to bring a little bit of Islay to every presentation, talk or meeting – we want everyone to feel part of the team.
What’s Islay like and what do you miss about it now you’re living away?
Islay is absolutely fantastic, and I couldn’t be more proud to come from such a beautiful island. If anyone hasn’t been, I couldn’t recommended it more. It’s more than just whisky too, the wildlife, scenery, food and of course the amazing beach walks! To be honest though, I don’t think I’ve actually had the chance to miss it yet – I’ve only been away ½ a year and the majority of that has been spent travelling to countries that I haven’t been to before, I’m thoroughly enjoying my new role.
Can you describe the Bruichladdich distillery to us?
Bruichladdich is a distillery where we focus on all aspects of the production from sourcing the barley, to the production of our spirit, to warehousing and bottling, it’s all done by people, not computers. Built in 1881, all traditional equipment has been kept in place where possible. We are always challenging convention with every creation we do. With a total of 94 staff, which is the biggest local employer on the island, it’s all about people.
Have you found it hard being a young woman working in the whisky industry?
Not at all, it’s actually a really interesting prospect. I think more and more women are becoming involved within this industry which is amazing, from Tour Guides at the distillery to Brand Ambassadors to Master Distillers, there are so many opportunities. The fact that I’m from Islay allows me to put my own perspective on everything that we do at Bruichladdich, and just like everyone, I’m certainly always looking to learn the next thing so I can give the best information out to all our Bruichladdich drinkers. I’ve got an amazing team at the distillery behind me too.
Finally – the toughest question, which is your favourite Bruichladdich whisky and how do you like to enjoy it?
Oh that is a tough one, there are so many choices! I’m a really big fan of all of the Octomore’s, but at the moment I’m really enjoying the Port Charlotte Scottish Barley. I’d always have it neat as I love it just on its own, but I know from personal experience that it works really well as a highball too, especially if you’re looking for something refreshing!
Port Charlotte Scottish Barley
An Islay single malt whisky with marine aromas and flavours balanced with classic floral elegance and delicious smouldering peat smokiness.
- Aroma: A first hit of peat smoke, iodine, salty canvas, crushed sea shells, charred oak, black pepper, paprika and leather tobacco pouches is followed by notes of vanilla, figs, date, marinated pear, malt, dark sweet toffee and cracked walnuts.
- Taste: Smoky barley sweetness gives way to marine freshness, rich toffee and vanilla, citrus and mellow oak.
- Finish: Long and warming