One of the central pillars of “Laddie” philosophy is that all of our spirit should be matured for all of its life on Islay. This point is non-negotiable. CEO Simon Coughlin reiterated it at a public meeting in Bruichladdich this week, stating that “If, for some reason we were unable to mature our spirit on Islay, we would stop distilling rather than ship it off the island.”
Our Islay-centric intransigence means that some careful planning needs to be put into place to ensure that there is sufficient warehousing capacity available to meet our increased production levels. The company has already been building additional warehouses on land that it currently owns adjacent to the distillery in Bruichladdich, but, given the long term nature of maturation in the whisky industry, a permanent long term solution needs to be found.
With this in mind, a tract of land has been identified at Octofad Farm on the Rhinns of Islay, around a mile inland and just south of the old unmade and gated county road that still links Octofad with Lossit on the west coast. The site is in a gentle hollow and is currently surrounded by commercial forestry. A public consultation was held in Bruichladdich village hall earlier this week to gauge local opinion for the erection of seven warehouses there, none of which will be visible from the A847 Port Charlotte to Portnahaven Road although landscaping and planting is proposed to mitigate in the event of the forestry eventually being cleared.
Informal representations have also been made to Islay Community Council and other interested stakeholders, including Scottish Natural Heritage, prior to a formal planning application to Argyll and Bute Council.
The warehouses would be built, one at a time, over a period of a number of years and it is expected that the proposed facility would provide sufficient capacity up to 2030 which is the point at which output of matured whisky should achieve equivalence with the laying down of new spirit.
The potential for increased levels of traffic might be a concern locally but distillery manager Allan Logan says: “The long term and essentially passive nature of whisky maturation means that the amount of traffic movements from Bruichladdich to the new facility would be relatively limited. Our current best estimate would be in the region of two additional return truck movements per day along the A847.”
Simon Coughlin spoke of his personal determination to derive as much social and economic benefit as possible on Islay from the success of Bruichladdich, both for the increasing number of company employees and the wider island community. He also drew attention to the tremendous potential that is anticipated for The Botanist, our unique Islay Dry gin. Discussions are taking place around how best to install a dedicated bottling line for The Botanist, a development which would of course see further employment opportunities on Islay. Simon again stressed his personal commitment to retaining this important production process on the island, and said that a wide range of ideas are being looked at but there are no concrete proposals as yet.
Bruichladdich is now the largest private employer on Islay with around sixty people working at the distillery. A further twelve are based at the brand and distribution office in Glasgow.