For those of you who don't make the whisky rounds on the internet, this is the big news right now. Anyone confused about yesterday's "parable" will now understand the difficulty that comes when your beloved independent distillery decides to cash in its chips. The most fiercely independent of the brave new whiskymakers is finally turning corporate and we are all a bit sad at the moment. I'm sure Bruichladdich will continue to make outstanding whisky and I'm sure we'll still be able to get lots of it. The relationship, however, will likely change and that's difficult to handle right now. With all of the commenting I've read (and participated in) on the blogosphere right now, I thought David OG's statement on the Whisky Advocate summed it up nicely:
The real sadness of losing Bruichladdich’s independence is not the potential for a decline in quality, but the inevitable focus on efficiency that we see with nearly all other conglomerated distilleries. One of Bruichladdich’s most endearing and respectable qualities has been its commitment to the local community. While I’m not implying that Remy-C won’t have the same commitment, I am certain that running your business this way is incredibly expensive. Little Bruichladdich employs more people than any other distillery on Islay and more than most on the mainland. If you run it like the rest, you automate and eliminate until you’ve got three guys manning the mash and the stills and a couple running the front of the house. This will be a huge blow to the local economy and would cause an incredible backlash toward the brand from retailers like myself that fell in love with the whisky not only for its quality, but also its commitment to the community and environment it inhabits. Indeed, I hope the Remy Cointreau factor in the incredible loss in cache their takeover represents for a carefully crafted anti-corporate image, exemplified by their famous tagline, “proudly independent.” Will Bruichladdich’s new catch phrase just be, “proud?” It doesn’t sound like an easy task the R-C marketing department. I personally hold no ill will for my dear friends at Bruichladdich, being mislead is sometimes part of this business and I do not fault them for keeping their cards close to chest. I’m excited to see what happens next. With any luck, Remy will not screw things up, nor seek out redundancy at the cobbled together masterpiece that has become Bruichladdich. Maybe a little extra capital won’t hurt the place, as the floors always need a new coat of paint, but if extreme care is not taken with preserving the legacy, there’s going to be hell to pay. There’s no question that there will be some serious love lost for the diehard progressives. - David OG
From everything I've heard so far, this offer came in strong and fast - a serious amount of money that no one thought would ever be on the table. Bruichladdich was never planning on selling, but when RC brings the briefcase full of cash, there are investors that want to see their investment returned and there's nothing to consider beyond that.