‘It’s good, it’s good, I love it here. I love it on Islay. I don’t know anywhere else, but you know your home, and it’s just… It’s nice!
The new valinch in the Laddieshop is dedicated to Julie Chalmers, executive assistant and customer relations, as she leaves us this week to go on maternity leave. Julie has been with the company since 2009, when she began in the shop as a tour guide aged 18.
‘I left school at sixteen,’ she starts, ‘and without Bruichladdich… I don’t know.’ Now that many of her peers who went away for college or university are returning to Islay and looking for work, ‘I think maybe I made a good decision in staying here. And I found my husband. And now I’m having a baby,’ she laughs, ‘so maybe that side of life has worked out as well.’
She’s noticed some changes around the distillery in her career so far. ‘It’s really picked up. I don’t know if that’s just tourism on Islay anyway, but I mean… There’s more opportunity now, I’d say. We’ve all got more of an involvement as well. It’s like our job titles don’t just end at our desk really.
‘I suppose it was more like that back before Remy Cointreau because even though I was a shop assistant I spent days in the bottling hall labelling bottles. You were everywhere really!
‘I always say that the big guys would say that they were running then and they’re walking now, because they were paddling to keep things above the water, because they didn’t have the big Remy investment that they do now. Whereas us, on the floor, I’d say we were walking and we’re now running!’
Julie’s brother works at Bruichladdich as a stillman, but more than that, she feels that the company, ‘is like a family, it really is. It’s been lovely, the people, just working with nice people. Even, see, going on maternity leave I’m kind of really sad, because I’m going to miss everyone.’
Julie’s single cask is R09/155-023, a first-fill Sherry cask distilled 24 June 2004 – now 12 years old. The alc. vol is 61.2%. Valich bottlings are filled by visitors to the Laddieshop on Islay while stock lasts.