Bruichladdich co-founder Simon Coughlin will retire on 31 July, after more than 23 years with the Islay distillery.
Along with master distiller Jim McEwan, he is responsible for the rescuing the mothballed Bruichladdich Distillery in 2001, going on to develop the single malt brands Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte and Octomore and then The Botanist, the first Islay dry gin, in 2010. He was also responsible for making Bruichladdich the world’s first Scotch malt whisky and gin distilleries to receive B Corp certification.
Bruichladdich Distillery was bought by Remy Cointreau 2012 and Coughlin stepped down as chief executive in 2017, becoming chief executive of the whisky division and member of the Remy Cointreau executive committee.
He 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,“ he continued. “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.
“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.
“It’s incredible to look at where the industry is now; an explosion of new distilleries globally, people talking flavour, provenance and even terroir – 23 years ago, people thought we were mad.”
Douglas Taylor, chief executive at Bruichladdich, said, “Simon leaves an incredible long-lasting legacy – 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.”
The distillery is now the island’s largest private employer and continues to distil, mature, and bottle all its single malts exclusively on Islay.