- Bruichladdich Distillery will close the loop on Islay-based operations with creation of on-site maltings
- Distiller announced aims to use tidal energy as part of green-energy programme
- Sustainable farming options to be explored through purchase of Shore House Croft and land
- Career opportunities to increase, continuing status as island of Islay’s largest private employer
Bruichladdich Distillery have announced their intentions to close the loop on their all-Islay process by installing on-site maltings. Alongside their plans to improve infrastructure discussions are taking place with green energy providers which could see the 80 strong team become champions of sustainability.
Production Director and Ileach, Allan Logan, is currently in charge of infrastructure at Bruichladdich. He intends to have new maltings installed on distillery grounds by 2023, subject to planning permission. The move will be celebrated by whisky enthusiasts who see the maltings as a natural next step. The distillery currently grows 42% of their barley locally, and have made a vocal commitment to distilling, maturing and bottling their single malts only on Islay, so the maltings are ‘the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle’.
Bruichladdich’s current malting process sees their Islay grown barley travel to Inverness for malting. Since there is no option to separate and trace these small batches locally, the need to use a partner like Bairds in Inverness is essential to underpin the distillery’s principles of provenance and traceability.
Bringing the capability to malt small batches onto their doorstep will allow the self-monikered ‘Progressive Hebridean Distillers’ to be more flexible with their barley experimentation. Building on their current competency, the distiller looks to further their investigation into barley varieties out-with the UK’s recommended growing list.
Environmentalists are also sure to approve of the installation as less haulage will be sent to Inverness. The distillery’s carbon footprint will immediately be reduced, however, with implications of a higher on-site energy consumption, renewable sources are being paid serious attention.
Bruichladdich is currently exploring several renewable energy sources. The feasibility of tidal, water turbine and biomass technologies or a combination of all three are still being assessed. These sustainable practices would complement the distillery’s existing attempts to be more environmentally friendly which currently include reusing the hot waste water from distillation to run central heating and using fully electric vehicles.
As well as exploring renewables, Bruichladdich have acquired the 30 acres of Shore House Croft which lies next to the distillery. Intended to develop its own in-house agricultural expertise, the team hope to run barley trials and test sustainable farming practices. These barley trials will include growing trial plots of different varieties, namely those which could be more suited to the extreme conditions of Scotland’s west coast. Each will be assessed for their viability and flavour and will therefore be closely linked to that of the maltings, as these micro-plots will have to be carried through to distillation separately.
Alongside the outlined projects, a large proportion of investment has been put behind Islay warehousing. To keep all their casks maturing on the island, the distillery has built two new warehouses over the past three years. Another four will be raised over the coming years, which will safeguard the maturation location of all their malts long into the future.
This commitment to an Islay process, with new warehouses, new maltings and an adamancy to keep bottling on the island, will increase employment locally. As a result of their decisions, Bruichladdich employ 80 people on Islay, making them the largest private employer despite being the second smallest producer. Combined with the 18 farming partners who work to grow barley locally, the business’s contribution to the remote community is significant.
Speaking on these principles and the current investment, CEO Douglas Taylor says,
“Running a business from an island makes us distinctly aware that our social, economic and environmental impact must be a positive one. We feel strongly about our responsibility to the island and the people of Islay.
“In recent years, we have endeavoured to be more sustainable in our operations and more environmental in our actions. Some have been straightforward, like stopping using bottled water and introducing the use of electric vehicles, or more complicated, like habitat protection, wildlife corridor agreements with landowners for barley growing or engineering a solution that re-uses the hot waste-water from distillation.
“These actions are just the beginning of a long-term vision; to be more sustainable in all we do, and to leave behind a bright future for generations to come.