THE Bruichladdich Distillery on Islay is in line for further hefty investment as its French owner underlines its long-term commitment to the Hebridean whisky and gin producer.

Remy Cointreau, which acquired Bruichladdich for £58 million in 2012, has revealed plans to build its own maltings and harness pioneering renewable technology to power the site.

The investment, which has also seen Bruichladdich acquire 30 acres of adjacent land to run barley trials and test sustainable farming practices, signals Remy is prepared to at least replicate by 2024 the £22.8 million it has already spent on upgrading infrastructure over the last five years.

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And it is expected to bring new jobs to Bruichladdich, which is already the biggest private sector employer on the island. Eighty of the 100 staff employed directly by Bruichladdich are based at the distillery on Islay.

Chief executive Douglas Taylor said the next phase of investment will move Bruichladdich closer to its dream of becoming an “all-Islay” operation – from the cultivation and malting of its barley through the distillation, maturation and ultimate bottling of the spirit, before its eventual export to the mainland and beyond.

And Mr Taylor, who joined Bruichladdich as commercial director from Diageo in 2011, said the ongoing expansion shows the extent to which the distiller has flourished under Remy Cointreau, which has encouraged its independent outlook.

He said: “Normally what happens when an independent business is bought, the new mother introduces efficiencies.

“For our journey it has been the complete opposite. You always learn from the company you become part of, but we always felt that we would also be able to impart some of our spirit and purpose on to the parent group, and I think that has absolutely happened.”

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Mr Taylor, who stepped up to become chief executive in early 2017, after working on the Remy integration for five years, added: “We still feel like we are in control of our own destiny as much, if not more so, than when we were in an independent business.”

Although Bruichladdich, which was brought out of mothballs by a consortium led Mark Reynier in 2000, grows 42 per cent of its barley locally, it sends the cereal to Bairds in Inverness to be malted. That will change under plans by the distiller to build its own maltings on its grounds by 2023, subject to planning permission.

Mr Taylor described the maltings as the “missing link” in Bruchladdich’s ambition to be an all-Islay operation, noting that the new facility will allow it to experiment with “extremely small batches and have complete control of the process”. It will reduce the distiller’s carbon footprint.

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Mr Taylor emphasised the distiller’s determination to minimise its environmental impact and become “completely green” in the future.

Bruichladdich is investigating a range of renewable energy sources, including tidal energy, to power operations in the future. It currently re-uses hot waste water to run its central heating and uses fully-electric vehicles.

Mr Taylor said: “The big one is the tidal energy programme, which could create enough energy for us to be running off that. But we have got a number of green energy ideas.”

Mr Taylor declared that the type of sustainable investment planned by Bruichladdich runs counter to much of the expansion activity currently taking place in the whisky industry, which he said was focused more on ramping up production.

He said: “All the information that comes out from the industry that you hear just now, all the news of investment, it focuses around two things: production increases or visitor centres. But it does not focus around sustainable practices, local investment, provenance-based decisions that are there for Islay.”

In recent years Bruichladdich has built two additional warehouses in its quest to ensure all of its casks are matured on the island. A further four will be built in the coming years.

Asked if the latest plans would mean more jobs for Islay, Mr Taylor replied: “We will continue to increase employment on Islay. That is the import thing. For many years, people have had to leave Islay for jobs. Now we are creating jobs and careers.”

Meanwhile, Mr Taylor said the current pressure on the Islay ferry capacity, as highlighted by The Herald in recent weeks, is “extremely concerning”. He signalled his broad backing for the introduction of freight services on routes to the mainland, adding that consideration should also be given to the idea of night crossings.