“Taking Islay with me will be easy…” says Chloe Wood who’ll be 23 this month and is setting off to work for us in Singapore from September.
She says that her favourite place is her home at Octofad, the farm her grandfather originally moved to from the mainland. “It was a beautiful place to grow up”.
Octofad lies four miles south of Port Charlotte and above the ancient site of Nerabus. High on the hill, it has amazing views over Loch Indaal to the paps of Jura.
The Wood family have done many things over the years. Octofad was originally a dairy farm supplying Islay Creamery before that shut down in 2000. Chloe was just 6 at the time. They moved into beef cattle soon afterwards but they have also raised sheep, run a B&B, cut peats, and provided the base for father Andrew Wood’s contracting and construction business.
Then, says Chloe, “About seven or eight years ago, the boys built some big grain sheds to hold and dry all of the barley for the farmers that grow for Bruichladdich. It’s become quite an operation.”
Sports-mad Chloe is a qualified coach for hockey, rugby, badminton, football, and swimming and was a lifeguard before the opportunity at Bruichladdich came up. At school, she enjoyed physics and geography but Mandarin will be the first language to which she’s applied herself. “I’m going to give it a go for a few years for sure.” she says.
After leaving school, Chloe somewhat reluctantly accepted a place at Stirling University to study Sports Science but found, “I wanted to come back and do something that’s practical. I just wanted a job that I could progress at through working.”
Three and a half years ago, aged 18, she joined the Laddieshop team – “The Laddieshop is the University of Learning for all things Bruichladdich – you get to hear it all, see it all, taste it all, and learn it all in there!”
Soon she was promoted to host international visitors and run the Academy programme at the Distillery. Her cousin Josh works in the warehouse team, and some of her best friends are also colleagues.
Asked what she’ll miss most about Islay when she arrives in Singapore, she says straightaway, “The people and the landscapes. I don’t think I’ll have a lot of time where Islay folk won’t be there, to be honest. I think everyone in the distillery has planned a trip to Singapore already! I’ll need to make sure I’ve got a big apartment….”
Her parents have already booked their tickets to visit. It will be their first holiday in a long time. Chloe says that what she has learned from their approach and her experience is, “Hard work, time and effort. If you put those three things in, you’ll do pretty well in life.”
It’s a formula that is certainly working well for Chloe.
Chloe Wood’s valinch is our 28th single cask in the sequence, available in the Laddieshop while stocks last. It is a Sauternes cask, number 780, aged 12 years, 48.8% ABV.