Katie Smith is our Communications Manager for the Botanist. She grew up in Glasgow, and started working with us in 2018. She is based in Islay, from where her usual job has her dealing with our teams, distributors, and sales networks in the 60+ countries where the Botanist is sold. Since the lockdown and precautionary closure of the distillery, she has been continuing her role online, but has also enrolled as a local volunteer. We asked her what she’s been doing and what it has shown her about the island…
Katie Smith [KS]: I answered the phone to a colleague the other day recommending I had to bleed my boiler in order to get the heating up and running again. I was bowled over – was he a mind reader?! We had been running for a few days on the red and had literally just had the oil tank filled about half an hour earlier… Turns out my housemate had just posted something on her personal Instagram, he’d spied it and quickly called in order to save our bacon.
He stayed on the call, instructing us with every turn of the screw on how to perform the necessary manoeuvre. He took time out of his busy day to help out some clueless city girls off his own back and out of the kindness of his heart.
That’s the kind of people Ileachs are. Friendly and pragmatic. And they seem to know everything; no “news” passes them by! I’ve experienced this many times over since I made the move over from Glasgow in 2018. I was slightly apprehensive about living somewhere where I didn’t know a soul, but I was welcomed by Bruichladdich and the wider community, with open arms.
Folk here are friendly. My car broke down, someone fixed it for me. I wanted to get out cycling, someone not only serviced my bike but taught me how to look after it myself. I needed accommodation, I was offered a beautiful house and have ended up living up with two wonderful women who have become close friends.
So now, my housemates (two colleagues at the distillery) and I have volunteered to shop for people who are having to isolate for 12 weeks. I’ve been paired with a lovely lady in Portnahaven who is at home with her Collie dog for the foreseeable. I just take her order and drive up to the small supermarket in Bowmore and get the shopping during volunteer hour 11-12. They only let in a certain number of folk at a time and they’ve helpfully taped the floor to show the 2m distance you need to observe. Then the shop’s own driver and van do the actual home deliveries.
We’ve spoken several times on the phone, exchanged Netflix recommendations and have even arranged to meet for a coffee when the lockdown ends. I’m hoping she doesn’t mind the alternatives I’ve had to pop into her shopping. Better to have artisanal oatcakes then none at all, right?
Next up we’ll be distributing hand sanitiser developed by Bruichladdich Distillery and Spirited Soaps across the island. It’s good to see the community coming through for one another and I’m glad to be able to play a tiny part in it. It’s a community that’s given me so much already.