Yesterday Mark Reynier, CEO of Bruichladdich, tweeted to the the world that the owners were in “advanced talks with Rémy Cointreau” about the sale of the distillery.
You wouldn’t let such a bomb go off without a solid amount of confidence that the deal will finally be done, but actually the mere acknowledgement of the owners that they are willing to sell Bruichladdich is a blow. The “Progressive Hebridean Distillers” were among the fiercest defenders of independence in the whisky industry. I don’t want to speculate about the reasons, financial problems, greed or simply the wish to retire? We probably will never know. The timing not too long after the successful launch of the Laddie Ten, the new standard expression produced entirely by the team around Mark Reynier and Jim McEwan somehow is fitting. Mission accomplished!
Mark Reynier stated that the operations would go on as before and that no personal changes were going to happen. But I guess I am not the only one to wonder how long a global player like Rémy Cointreau is willing to sustain the high number of employees that the distillery has been rightly proud of. And perhaps Bruichladdich is only the stepping stone into the growing whisky market for RC, if the deal works out, they may consider expanding. Bladnoch looks like an ideal target.
Yet again money has won over passion. Especially Mark Reynier himself was very loud in expressing his passion for independent whisky making, both on the Laddie Blog and on Twitter, and often combined with poison arrows being shot at the big whisky conglomerates. But we see that the loudness is not everything.
Update 23th July 2012:
Today the sale was officially announced. Rémy Cointreau will pay the staggering sum of £58 million for Bruichladdich and promised to keep all emloyees because they plan to double production. Apart from Mark Reynier leaving there are supposed to be no personal changes so far.
Earlier today Mark Reynier had posted a long personal statement on the Bruichladdich blog in which he explained he was outvoted 7 against 1 at the decisive board meeting. He mentioned an initial ‘Braveheart’ spirit when Rémy showed their interest in the distillery, but stated he could not notice this spirit anymore when the decision was taken.
The statement was deleted from the blog only a few hours after publishing, but it can still be found on Mark Reynier’s Facebook profile.