By Scott Wright

BRUICHLADDICH Distillery has hailed a milestone in its quest to boost the environmental and social impact of its operations.

The Islay distillery is the first whisky and gin producer in Europe to become a certified B Corporation (B Corp), underlining its “social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency”.

The distiller secured the status after a “rigorous” 15-month process, which saw it respond to no fewer than 200 questions on its operations. It was asked to supply evidence to back each of its assertions. The questions are designed to prove whether companies can strike a balance between “profit and purpose”.

B Corp emerged on the west coast of America in the early 2000s, when fimrs in the craft drinks, package holiday, personal care, fashion and baking ingredients sectors were among the first to be certified. It is now understood to be globally-recognised business accreditation scheme.

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Bruichladdich, which is owned by French drinks giant Remy Cointreau, is the largest private sector employer on Islay. Eighty of its 104 staff are based on the island, with the remaining 24 in Glasgow. No staff have been placed on furlough during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bruichladdich chief executive Douglas Taylor said: “After 15 months of intense work and rigorous examination we stand here, not only as the first single malt Scotch whisky distillery to be B Corp certified, but as the first whisky and gin company in Europe to attain B Corp status.

“I’ve been asked what the benefit is to us, but that’s not important. Being a certified B Corp business is validation that the transparent, sustainable, community-minded business we have been running since 2001 is a worthwhile project.

“We are excited to now be officially part of a global movement of leaders using business as a force for good, standing shoulder to shoulder, and working together to create a more inclusive and sustainable economy.”

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The accreditation for Bruichladdich comes as the distiller continues to invest heavily to become an “all-Islay” operation. Its ultimate goal is for all aspects of production to take place on the Hebridean island. The distillery, which Remy bought for £58 million in 2012, has acquired 30 acres of land to run barley trials and test sustainable farming practices. It plans to build its own maltings on the island by 2023, subject to planning permission.

The distillery is also on a mission to decarbonise its production operations by 2025, and has been investigating renewable sources such as tidal energy. It already re-uses waste hot water to run its central heating and its staff have electric vehicles.

Bruichladdich was brought out of mothballs by a group of private investors in 2001.