Julie is an Ileach, born and bred. She’s lived here ‘all her years’ and was raised on the southwest tip of the island in Port Wemyss.
“There were lots of kids in Port Wemyss/Portnahaven growing up, especially in the school holidays. All the kids that came to visit just became part of our wee gang. We were just flung out a back door and we got to go and play, roll in the muck, swim in the sea and ponds, finding crabs and welks. My childhood was really fun and not too strict.”
Julie chose to stay on Islay after high school. She started working for Bruichladdich at 18, met husband Alex at 20. Two years later she was engaged, another two after she was married, and then daughter Willow was born another two years after that. With Willow now 21 months, the three-month tick to the next milestone has her wondering what’s next.
“Certainly not another baby. I didn’t stay on Islay just because the family life is good, if I was going to have done it, it would have been in my late teens but I soon met Alex, soon got married, soon had a kid. Anything I wanted to do off the island wasn’t a priority anymore. That was ok for me but I’d want to get Willow to spread her wings, see the wider world. It’s not that you had to do it, but I want her to do the things I wish I did.”
Having worked for the distillery for almost a decade, Julie has experienced a variety of roles. She began in the shop, then moved into an admin based role, then on to PA for then-CEO Simon Coughlin before taking on the customer services side of the business. She’s now due to take over the HR function at Bruichladdich when current head (and Julie’s cousin) goes on maternity leave.
“The milestone for this year is just to get through this year, get through another winter. Emma leaving us in September will make things a bit more on the go at work. I want to put myself into that rather than do too much at once. I’d like to focus on my career for a bit.