Bruichladdich have announced plans to to close the loop on their all-Islay process by installing on-site maltings at their distillery on the island.

Alongside these plans, the 80 strong distillery team say they have also entered into discussions with green energy providers to further improve sustainability.

Production director and Islay native, Allan Logan, who will head up the plans, said that he intends to have new maltings installed on distillery grounds by 2023, subject to planning permission.

Bruichladdich on-site maltings

Bruichladdich CEO Douglas Taylor. Picture: Bruichladdich

The move is being described as an organic step for the distillery, which currently grows 42 per cent of its barley locally and has made a vocal commitment to distilling, maturing and bottling their single malts only on Islay.

Described as the ‘final piece of the jigsaw puzzle’, the new maltings will remove the need to send the brand’s Islay grown barley to Inverness, where it is currently malted due to Bruichladdich’s commitment to using small batches to ensure provenance and traceability.

Bringing the malting process on-site will also allow for more flexibility with their barley experimentation, with plans to continue to further their investigation into barley varieties out-with the UK’s recommended growing list.

The project will help to reduce the distillery’s carbon and to compensate for the higher on-site energy consumption, with several renewable energy sources being explored by the team.

The feasibility of tidal, water turbine and biomass technologies or a combination of all three are still being assessed.

The firm say that these sustainable practices would complement the distillery’s existing attempts to be more environmentally friendly which currently include reusing the hot waste water from distillation to run central heating and using fully electric vehicles.

The team have acquired the 30 acres of Shore House Croft which lies next to the distillery to develop their own in-house agricultural expertise, the team hope to run barley trials and test sustainable farming practices.

These barley trials will include growing trial plots of different varieties, namely those which could be more suited to the extreme conditions of Scotland’s west coast.

Each will be assessed for their viability and flavour and will therefore be closely linked to that of the maltings, as these micro-plots will have to be carried through to distillation separately.

A large proportion of investment has been put behind the Islay warehousing. To keep all their casks maturing on the island, the distillery has built two new warehouses over the past three years.

Another four will be raised over the coming years, which they say will safeguard the maturation location of all their malts long into the future.

Bruichladdich employ 80 people on Islay, making them the largest private employer despite being the second smallest producer. Combined with the 18 farming partners who work to grow barley locally, the business’s contribution to the remote community is significant.

CEO Douglas Taylor said: “Running a business from an island makes us distinctly aware that our social, economic and environmental impact must be a positive one. We feel strongly about our responsibility to the island and the people of  Islay.

“In recent years, we have endeavoured to be more sustainable in our operations and more environmental in our actions. Some have been straightforward, like stopping using bottled water and introducing the use of electric vehicles, or more complicated, like habitat protection, wildlife corridor agreements with landowners for barley growing or engineering a solution that re-uses the hot waste-water from distillation.

“These actions are just the beginning of along term vision; to be more sustainable in all we do, and to leave behind a bright future for generations to come.”

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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