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Islay Distilleries, Large and Small

The guys at Bruichladdich certainly know how to create a bit of a stir. Linked to the recent announcement of the reopening of Port Charlotte Distillery as Islay's ninth distillery there are a number of reports comparing the wee Scottish David Bruichladdich distillery with the large foreign owned Goliath distilleries.

A fairly short release from UPI focuses on ‘Scotch distillery to reopen after 80 years’, mentioning efforts to keep some Scotch whisky distilling in Scottish hands. It get's a bit more interesting in the Scotsman, where Eva Langlands writes about ‘Fighting spirit resurrects old distillery’:

Now bosses at maverick private distiller Bruichladdich have decided to revive the long-departed seaside distillery in an attempt to buck the trend of increasing domination by international conglomerates in Scotland's whisky industry.

So far, so good. But then I think it goes a little bit wrong, as the article continues (similar to the UPI report) with:

Out of eight distilleries on Islay, world-renowned for its peaty whisky, seven rest in foreign hands. Bowmore is owned by the Japanese, Ardbeg by the French, Laphroaig by the Americans and Bunnahabhain by Trinidadians.

I suspect that won't go down too well just over the hills of the Rinns of Islay, at Kilchoman, Islay's Farm Distillery. They are even smaller and to my knowledge not owned by an international conglomerate either, instead financed by private investors and local enterprise grants. But then Mark Reynier might just have been misquoted, as I'm sure he knows his westerly neighbours quite well.

Anyway, I think at least to an extent he's right. The small local owned distilleries add variety to the industry and keep the large ones on their toes. Just like all the microbreweries do for the beer industry. Or the small bloggers for the news, as we covered the reopening of the Port Charlotte Distillery on Islay almost two weeks ago where the big newspapers and agencies only wake up now...



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