Bruichladdich is special.
We all know they have a beautiful (and huge) range of products; from the unpeated Bruichladdich, via the quite heavily peated Port Charlotte, up to pet project Octomore, where peat is not just a flavor, but seems to be an extra ingredient.
On the 29th of May 2013, the twelfth re-birthday of Bruichladdich, during the Feis Ile 2013, there was a musical evening with entertainment of Robin Laing with little breaks in order to poor us another dram of one or the other Bruichladdich product, accompanied by another of Master distiller Jim McEwan’s endless supply of wonderful stories and anecdotes, of which most actually may hold a core of truth, I am sure.
Below follows an extract of Jim’s more serious speeches about the past twelve years of Bruichladdich’s history and mainly the takeover by Rémy Cointreau, edited for readability where necessary.
“Bruichladdich are not just about marketing and sales, they are about people. They care about people and are more like a family then they are an employer. Over sixty people work at Bruichladdich, making them the largest employer [family] of the island. They stand together and fight together.“
[…] “Engineer Duncan MacGillivray [Now Managing Director] rebuilt the distillery ‘single handedly’ from the mess the previous owners had left behind, rescuing the great share of Victorian equipment where he could, changing mechanics only where need be, in order to keep the character of the spirit as it has always been.”
[…] “It has not been an easy journey, Bruichladdich have struggled for twelve long years. It was like walking in snow with a rucksack full of rocks, sometimes there was no money to pay the salaries... it has been a very tough twelve years just to make a living. With people making cheap shots at Bruichladdich, with ‘they are not a true Islay whisky’, and ‘they cannot even produce a peated malt’.“
[…] “Nobody takes cheap shots at Bruichladdich anymore. We are here, and we are here to stay. We are the true sons of Scotland, very proud of what we do.”
Most important part of the evening was the following message, that has been heard before, but cannot be repeated enough:
[…] “Rèmi Cointreau has said: ‘Jim, we bought you for what you do, and the way you do it, we don’t want you to change, ever. We just love the way you express yourselves with whisky’. And that’s tremendous. The future of the company is now secured, way beyond the horizon. People can now breathe easy.“
|.jim telling a completely unrelated story, but the picture is fitting to mine|
[…] “We will never do artificial coloring, we will never do chill-filtration, we give it to you straight from the heart, straight from the barrel. Here is what I want you to do: spread the gospel about Islay spread the word about Bruichladdich. We are not changing and will remain as we are.”
Well Jim, here I am, spreading the gospel. Only because we love what you are doing too.
Remarkable footnote: none of the speeches mention Bruichladdich’s original rescuer Mark Reynier. It is unknown to me if this is within the agreement between Mark and Bruichladdich, or that there is a feud between them after the being taken over by Rémy Cointreau. It is well known that Mark has been the only shareholder voting against the take over, not having completed his vision yet and that he wanted to wait with the sale until a couple of years later. It is also well known that during the twelve hard years, he has managed to convince the shareholders to invest more in Bruichladdich, in order to keep them alive.