Three Bruichladdich colleagues are moving on to a more leisurely Islay existence this month. Jan Reavey, Botanist Foundation Coordinator, Dougie McIntyre, Dry Goods Warehouseman, and Colin Tocher, Bottling Line Operative for our whiskies.
You can read about Jan’s 16 years of service with us here [link to Botanist website article].
Colin’s first acquaintance with Bruichladdich was as a visiting coppersmith; you can read all about that here. [The 40th Anniversary of Spirit Still No 1 >] He is a keen fly fisherman, who developed a late passion for infusions and cocktails. It started with Bramble Gin and Cherry Gin, and moved onto more exotic creations – Mango, Banoffee, Avocado, Strawberry and Rhubarb, Peach and Pear. To date, he’s developed 110 varieties.
He gives his cocktails, most often sipped in his garden in Port Ellen, original names, such as Bahama-mama (his favourite invention so far). Layered colours are something of a signature. His inspiration? “Some of the cocktails I’d seen didn’t impress me so I thought I could do better!” he says. We’ll be looking out for more where they came from on social media now he is released from his duties on the bottling line.
Dougie McIntyre is the man who knows where everything is in the Bruichladdich warehouses.
He joined the distillery 20 years ago, in 2002, and can usually be found moving around the place by forklift – doing his own version of “warehouse Jenga”. There was a spell when he delivered the paperwork speedily between warehouses with a push bike that he rescued from a distillery skip.
Dougie was born and raised on the island – on a farm between Bowmore and Torra – but lived on the mainland for 17 years before coming back to care for his parents. Before the distillery opened he was working at the old folks home in Bowmore. The chance of a distillery job – at first on a Government scheme – was not to be turned down.
“A distillery job was always a good thing,” he says, and at the time it was very much a roll your sleeves up and get on with whatever needed doing. For Dougie that meant mainly being in the bottling hall and rolling casks.
“I seemed to have a knack in the warehouses for the dry goods,” he said. While his fellow retiree Jan Reavey was responsible for ordering in all the raw ingredients needed to make whisky, Dougie was the one who had to find somewhere to store it and to ensure it was at the right place at the right time.
As stockman and logistics guy – he also organises the lorries to take goods away – he always knows what’s being made, what’s being bottled and what’s about to be made.
“I have to be one step ahead of what they are going to bottle ,so they can have everything ready for when they are going to need it,” he says. And, because Bruichladdich not only make the whisky on the island but mature it and bottle it here too, space is always at a premium.
It’s why he calls the job “warehouse Jenga” – the challenge is always having to move things around to make space for something else. “I’m moving stuff about constantly, as there’s never enough space,” he laughs.
The changes he’s seen are all due to scaling up of production and a less chaotic way of working, compared to when it was all hands to the pumps at time. “There was a lot of “make do and mend” and that’s probably not such a good thing,” he laughs.
A big music fan, Dougie loves jazz and blues and “any kind of music” and also never tires of walking on his beloved Islay. Retirement will mean more chance to explore the coastal paths, the hills and woodlands of Islay and Jura (he has walked the paps and might tackle them again). On an evening he’ll enjoy a drink but it’s more likely to be a Botanist than a whisky, despite having picked up one or two collectibles during his time here.
We wish Dougie, Jan, and Colin a long and happy retirement.