In terms of openness, she has seen the industry change, and relishes how that serves a bigger goal too. “It was very different when I started. There are many more distilleries today doing things similar to us, that are focusing on the whole process from land to dram, taking responsibility for that and putting value back into the community. A lot of them are born green, so in many ways they’re ahead of us, and that’s incredible. We attended the World Whisky Forum in 2018, and the number of people that referenced Bruichladdich and said, “You inspired us…” was amazing. That lone voice became a movement which inspired other distillers who are now taking it even further forward and we’re learning from them; it’s become a wonderful cyclical thing…
“If we’re going to make real change in the world, none of us are going to do it alone. There is no competitive advantage to doing things right, whether its regenerative agriculture, or hydrogen technology, light-weighting glass bottles, or future-proofing rural communities, we need to share. To open-source and to learn from each other, try stuff, fail, and try again. We are going to have to do this together. ”
For Lynne’s generation, there have been other welcome changes when it comes to equal opportunities. “You do have more women in production now, which is great, but there is still more to be done and I firmly believe you can’t be what you can’t see. So when kids on Islay can see Georgie [Crawford at Lagavulin or in her new role at Farkin] or myself, or Emma in HR or Jane in Content, Joanne and Moira in warehousing and Arlene and Tina in bottling, they can see that they have options on Islay and their horizons can be that much more expanded.”
She points to the progress within Bruichladdich; our senior management has been as high as 60% female in recent years. “All of us have some experience that can be of support to another woman. Menopause, coming back to work after you’ve had a baby, juggling working and home schooling, or not being able to have a baby, caring for ageing parents indeed sometimes all of these at once.. There are all these issues and statistically the burden of that falls on women…” Lynne worked 3 days a week for “a chunk of time” when her family was young, which she says wasn’t easy. One of the barriers to be overcome is the perception that regardless of whether working part time, “we can still grow and add huge value to the business.”
We have much more flexible working than we did even 5 years ago, and we want to do more. Our maternity and paternity policies have improved. Lynne makes the point that it isn’t just about mums staying at home; increasing paternity leave is also really important. In starting a women’s group this year at Bruichladdich (it’s first meeting was today, in fact, International Women’s Day 2022) a big part of the agenda is illuminating taboo subjects, for men in the business too, making sure that everyone feels supported and well-informed.
It makes perfect sense, given Lynne’s openness, her humour, and her strong convictions, that she has spent her formative years at Bruichladdich, and Bruichladdich has spent its formative years with Lynne. “I just believe in this place. I believe this place creates change, it creates opportunities, and if I can be a part of that, if what I do helps to take that dream a bit forward and makes a positive impact on Islay, then that makes me feel that I have value…” It’s a feeling that has set our course so far and will keep us going long distance.