By Scott Wright

BRUICHLADDICH Distillery Company has posted an increase in profits during a year when it continued developing plans to become an “all-Islay” operation.

The distiller, which is the largest private sector employer on the Hebridean island, made a profit of nearly £1.6 million for the year ended March 31, accounts newly-filed at Companies House show. Profits were up on the £1.25m recorded the year before, and grew as turnover increased by around £4m to £23.9m, the accounts reveal.

Bruichladdich, which produces The Botanist gin as well as single malts, has been part of Remy Cointreau empire since 2012. Paris-listed Remy acquired the distiller for £58m, with the deal marking a successful exit for drinks executive Mark Reynier, who led the consortium which brought the distillery out of mothballs in 2000.

Remy has invested heavily to expand Bruichladdich since taking over.

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Having spent £22.8m to enhance its infrastructure during the first five years, including on the construction of two maturation warehouses, Bruichladdich revealed last March that it would spend around the same again, with plans to build its own maltings and harness renewable energy technology at the site.

Chief executive Douglas Taylor said yesterday that, subject to planning permission, the maltings will be operational by 2023. It will initially handle around 60% of the distillery’s malting needs, he noted.

Mr Taylor said: “The maltings plans are progressing well and this will be the final piece of the jigsaw in an all-Islay operation. With plans in the design stage and with sustainability in mind, we are investigating carefully the ways we can incorporate the maltings into the site with minimum impact.

He added: “In 2019 we had 21 Islay farmers growing for us, a record number. We aim to be malting all our Islay-grown barley on site alongside our organically-grown barley from the Scottish mainland, and bere barley – an ancient varietal grown for us on Orkney in partnership with the Orkney Agronomy Institute.”

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On the renewables front, Mr Taylor said the distillery is on track to be “100% decarbonised by 2025”.

He added: “We are looking at tidal energy, alongside other green energy sources and in March we are moving the distillery to 100% green electricity.

“Looking beyond electricity, we are investigating alternatives to the fossil fuels used in production, including ways to move to greener fuel alternates (non-fossil fuels) some of which, while more expensive, would reduce our CO2 emissions by up to 80%.

“We also planted 7,500 trees on site in the last two years.”

The growth of Bruichladdich led it to increase its headcount by 11% to 101 over the financial period, with plans to add more jobs this year. “This means that while we are the third smallest producer of the nine distilleries on Islay, we continue to be the biggest private employer on the island,” Mr Taylor said.

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Writing in the accounts, he noted that the distiller increased its investment in distilled bulk whisky stocks from around £33m to £36.2m.

Mr Taylor, who became chief executive in 2017, added: “The continued support of Remy Cointreau gives the company the ongoing ability to continue to expand its investment programme into bulk whisky stocks.

“With the global route to market fully integrated, the company will focus on building breadth and depth of distribution and increased rate of scale, in key markets.”

However, he highlighted the risk posed by Brexit and the 25 per cent import tariff on single malt whisky imposed by the US in October. Mr Taylor writes that Bruichladdich has moved to mitigate these risks through written agreements with suppliers which provide its main raw materials, and by having a large portfolio of different products.