Introducing the Distillery

IN

The distillery where The Botanist is made opened in 1881. It was built around a central courtyard by 3 progressive brothers from a Scottish distilling dynasty, the Harvey’s. The site has good access – being on the western shore of a large sea loch, Loch Indaal.

Historically, fuel and grain could come in, and barrels of whisky could go out, by ship. Connections by land are also good; it is on the roadside of a 14.7 mile Thomas Telford route through the Rhinns of Islay, laid down in the early decades of the 19th century. The village of Bruichladdich, meaning “Brae by the shore” grew ribbon-style on the landward side of the road, with the handsome 3 storey buildings of the distillery at its centre.

Bruichladdich Distillery went through several closures and takeovers during its first 120 years. But since 2001 it has seen stability, investment, and strong community-based growth. The company is driven by an ideal of high provenance spirits, of connection between the land and the liquid that ends up in a glass, and the value that is added by the people here behind the scenes.

Picture this. Inside the distillery, on a typical day, 77 people are busy within the gates with the common goal of bringing a taste of Islay out to the world. On one side of the courtyard we have the stillhouse, opposite that the bottling hall, up at the back the warehouse storage and engineers’ workshop, down at the seafront the shop, the logistics department, and the offices.

Colin and Connor on our bottling line

Bucking the trend of 7% population decline on Islay in the decade between 2001 and 2011, our distillery grew by a factor of 2.4. In the decade between 2011 and 2021, which has coincided with how long we’ve been making gin, it has increased by the same amount again; a total growth over the last 20 years of 532%.

More than 1/3 of our team have either migrated to Islay or gone away and returned.  We manufacture all our spirits here, yet 45% of our Islay jobs are in offices; the decision to keep those positions on the island has been a deliberate investment in sustaining the local economy and community. We look forward to the next census results in 2022 to see whether these kinds of career opportunities have helped stem the flow of talent away from the island.

So here we are today, the largest private employer in a community of 3,500 souls, and one of the only distilleries in the world to have B Corp status. We’ll continue to take our responsibilities towards our workers seriously, and measure how well we’re doing that as part of our B Corp certification.

Hopefully, our 3 progressive founders would be pleased with the faces they’d see and the hum of activity if they walked through our gates today.

 

Further Reading

What is B Corp? 

More about the history of our distillery

Come visit us! 

Connect

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