Bruichladdich back with a 184-proof bang

Most Scotch distilleries have been working on ways to smooth out the peaty aromas and tastes of the popular whisky to broaden its market appeal. Virtually no one is trying to make it have more kick.

Except the Bruichladdich distillery on the Isle of Islay, off Scotland's west coast. It is reviving a centuries-old recipe for a 184 proof whisky -- which means an astounding 92 percent alcohol.

Why?, you may ask. Me, too.

Well, Bruichladdich Managing Director Mark Reynier is very straightforward about that: “We are only doing this because we have this ancient recipe and because we can. Our team can only get involved in the fun of recreating truly historic malts because we are independent -– and we can.”

The run began this week -- Monday, Feb. 27, at 11:30 a.m., to be precise -- and only 12 barrels of the quadruple-distilled single malt will be produced, with master distiller Jim McEwan doing the honors.

Martin Martin, a 17th Century travel writer of some renown, mentioned this particular whisky in his book, "The Western Islands of Scotland."

" … The first taste affects all the members of the body: two spoonfuls of this last liquor is a sufficient dose; and if any man should exceed this, it would presently stop his breath, and endanger his life.”

McEwan, a distiller of four decades' experience, said, "The whisky first ran at 92%, which will make an average of 90%. It is very similar to the whisky tasted by Martin all those years ago. It’s very floral, but most importantly it most certainly takes your breath away!”

Bruichladdich (pronounced "Brook-Laddie," Gaelic for a raised beach) was built in 1881 by William Harvey and his brothers. It was closed in 1994 by its then-owner, Jim Beam Brands. It was purchased in 2000 by Mark Reynier, a wine merchant who headed a group of investors and, after a spruce-up of the original Victorian equipment, resumed distilling on May 29, 2001.

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