To say that this unleashed a torrent of comments from across the worldwide Whisky community would be an understatement. Poor Mark quickly learned the pitfalls of full disclosure and appears to have been inundated with Twitter replies throughout the day. But comments and conversation about this surprising announcement were not limited to the TwitterSphere…
- John Hansell’s Whisky Advocate Blog, 60+ comments.
- Oliver Klimek’s Dramming Blog, 9 comments.
- WhiskyCast’s Facebook page, 14 comments.
- Our Instagram feed, 19 comments.
The running thread throughout all of the posts and comments is the sadness that everyone feels about a company that was very vocal about being “proudly independent” (just three short months ago, the JewMalt blog compared Bruichladdich to The Sex Pistols) announce that they will inevitably become part of a multinational corporation.
As I have said in previous posts, behind every great whisky is a great story, and the Bruichladdich story (the last 12 years in particular) ranks as one of the best…
From the Whisky For Everyone blog:
The distillery was commissioned and built in 1881 by Barnett Harvey, a Speyside distillery owner. His family had a rich heritage in the whisky and distilling industry and when his brother died, his three sons (William, Robert and John) decided to use the money that had been left to them to start a distillery for themselves. Each of the sons took on different responsibilities and William remained distillery manager until he died in 1937. Following William’s death and a period of temporary closure, the distillery was sold to a group of Americans who planned to produce and market Scottish single malt and then send it to the USA to meet the massive demand for whisky following the abolition of Prohibition. Bruichladdich then entered a rocky period where ownership changed hands five times in the following 50 years, resulting in it being mothballed in 1995.
It was not until 2000 that the distillery was brought back to life by a consortium of local businessmen and whisky lovers, headed by Jim McEwan and Mark Reynier. They restored Bruichladdich to its former glory by renovating all the old equipment, including the original stills, resulting in one of the most traditional distilleries in the world.
Given their recent history, and all of the hard work that the owners and employees of Bruichladdich have done over the past twelve years, I can understand their motivation to sell. Financial stability, especially in these hard economic times, isn’t something that you can ignore for very long, but as a man that has learned to appreciate people that have the courage to make it on their own (i.e. independent Craft Brewers and Distillers, independent musicians and filmmakers, that little BYOB that opened up down the street), I am sad to see this part of the Bruichladdich story come to a close.
For whatever reason, this scene from The Godfather keeps playing around in my head as part of me takes this sale very personally, while the other part of me knows that this is a sound business decision…
So here is the question that I will now pose to you, our loyal readers and fellow Whisky lovers:
Are the owners of Bruichladdich sellouts, or is their decision to sell just business as usual?
Please take our poll and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.