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Bruichladdich Distillery founder to retire

Simon Coughlin, co-founder of Bruichladdich Distillery, will retire at the end of this month after 23 years with the Islay producer.

Coughlin will retire on 31 July

Coughlin is responsible for resurrecting the then mothballed Bruichladdich Distillery in 2001, alongside master distiller Jim McEwan.

The two have developed three single malts brands: Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore.

Coughlin, who will retire on 31 July, said: “Back in 2000 the industry was in a very different place. Distilleries were being mothballed or even demolished, and opportunities for new distilleries to open and thrive were almost non-existent.

“Some of those early years were extremely difficult. We were breaking down many of the misconceptions in the whisky category – not to mention with a very old and neglected distillery – and were committed to carving out a more honest, transparent, and progressive vision for our industry.

“We’ve always believed in terroir, championing flavour, and harnessing our raw ingredients – while ensuring the island community is at the heart of our decision-making. It was undoubtedly a steep learning curve but having a laser sharp focus and never compromising on our vision has got us to where we are today.”

Coughlin stepped down from Bruichladdich Distillery in 2017, and became the CEO of Rémy Cointreau’s whisky division and a member of the group’s executive committee. During his time at the company, he headed up the acquisition of two single malt businesses for the group: Westland (Seattle, US) and Domaine des Hautes Glaces (France).

Coughlin added: “It’s incredible to look at where the industry is now; an explosion of new distilleries globally, people talking flavour, provenance and even terroir. Twenty-three years ago, people thought we were mad. None of this potential could have been realised without a dedicated team – often bemused by our vision and methods, but always unwavering in their support.”

Bruichladdich Distillery was bought by Rémy Cointreau in 2012, marking the French company’s return to the single malt Scotch whisky market.

‘Long-lasting legacy’

Douglas Taylor, CEO at Bruichladdich Distillery, said: “Simon leaves an incredible long-lasting legacy, following 23 years of dedicated commitment to project Bruichladdich. He and his fellow founders challenged the status quo when it came to resurrecting this distillery in 2001, and his unwavering courage and steadfast belief in authenticity, provenance and traceability are at the heart of our DNA.

“Simon has been an inspiration to many inside our business and across the world, inspiring a generation of distillers to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey. As the final founder to retire, Simon leaves Bruichladdich in an incredibly strong place and we thank him for everything he has done. I carry the torch forward into our next chapter with honour to ensure we build on his legacy.”

The Islay producer became B Corp-certified in 2020 – becoming the world’s first Scotch malt whisky and gin distillery to achieve this feat.

Bruichladdich said it is working towards decarbonising distillation by 2025.

Earlier this year, the brand revealed a sustainable art sculpture in London’s Borough Yards to mark Earth Day (22 April).

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