What’s the view from your office window?
Out across Loch Indaal to Bowmore. Nice view of Bruichladdich pier too.
Better than mine, even if it is my garden. What season of weather is it today, given it could be any one of four on Islay?
It’s rather grey and unusually calm, late autumn. Damp, but not wet.
What’s going on at the distillery today?
I read that on the web. Why do you expect a lower yield of alcohol per ton of barley from that?
The phenolic content affects the efficiency of fermentation, resulting in lower yield.
And why take the middle cut at a different point, for those who don’t know your process on this one?
You can alter the strength and character of the spirit by altering the middle cut. We have an unusually short middle cut which gives us better quality spirit.
Are you still being whisky mavericks (that’s a bit Wild West!) under the new ownership?
It’s business as usual at Bruichladdich. No change in attitude or approach!
Glad to hear that. You’re general manager, not distillery manager. What’s the difference?
I am able to take a broad overview of operations rather than attending to the day to day needs.
What do you mean by broad overview? Can you expand/give an example?
I take a more ambassadorial role now. I don’t have to worry about the day to day running of the plant as we now have a manager, brewer, and engineer.
In that case, any inclination to travel as much as Jim McEwan or do you do that anyway now?
[At this point Duncan had to go – called to the Laddieshop. We waited while he did manager things. And…he’s back!]
Jim loves to travel. He has just done Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Canada, U.S., and Germany and is heading to [Australia] and NZ in the New Year.
But that doesn’t answer my question – how about you?
I may travel more next year – but not to the extent Jim does… He loves it.
I hear you’re a Gaelic speaker. Get to use it much?
Speak Gaelic with Alasdair in the bottling hall pretty much every day.
What’s this about a passion for tractors? Tell us more.
I have restored a David Brown 880 (1964) and a Massey Ferguson 135 (1966).
That’s impressive, though tractor models not my area of expertise! And the old lorry you rebuilt. What’s the tale behind that?
The lorry is a Ford AA 1 ton truck (1935) restored by David McLellan and myself. It has spent its whole life on Islay.
I heard it was the first lorry to come to Islay; is that correct?
We believe so. It was driven up from Ford’s Dagenham by original owner Willie Christie of Islay Woollen Mill.
A great story. Any new expressions coming soon of The Laddie, Octomore, or PC coming that you can tell us about now?
We have Octomore and Port Charlotte releases distilled from Islay barley coming. No release dates yet.
Any unfulfilled distilling ambitions?
We’re just enjoying the exploration of different barley varieties and provenance from around Scotland. It’s a fascinating and ongoing project.
Fascinating indeed. No plans for vodka or Islay rum from local sugar cane fields then! And the Port Charlotte distillery?
Port Charlotte distillery was halted by the financial crisis. Remy Cointreau have not decided what they are going to do with it yet.
I sense you won’t have trouble filling your time if you ever retire. And you adore seeing your grandchildren. Are they on Islay too?
I love seeing the grandchildren, but they live in the Scottish borders. I get to see them often though. No intention of retiring; always seem to have something on the go.
Social media and the Internet: fan or foe?
I suppose it’s a necessary evil. I do look at Facebook etc. for the family now and again. I don’t’ really get involved though.
What would be your desert island dram (it doesn’t have to be one of your own!)
Bruichladdich 15, 2nd Edition: one of my all-time favorites, finished in a very good Sauternes cask. I’ll take that to my island. If unavailable, then a Highland Park.
And we’re done. Thank you!