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Bladnoch – Liquidation In Times Of Boom

by Oliver Klimek on March 17, 2014

Today a disturbing piece of whisky news shocked readers on Facbook and Twitter: Bladnoch Distillery has gone into liquidation. The news was confirmed by Raymond Armstrong on the Bladnoch Forum. He also stated that the step was not taken because of financial difficulties but because of differing views of the directors and shareholders whether to sell the distillery or not.

A distillery going into liquidation in boom times when new distillery projects are announced literally every day? This may sound surprising indeed, but when you have been following the news about Bladnoch over the years, you could notice that the business has not been booming for them. You could read remarks by Raymond Armstrong reporting about the difficulty of keeping the distillery going with the high cost for barley and fuel, and there have been prolonged periods when the distillery has not been operational at all.

Originally bought from Diageo (then UDV) as a holiday home, production resumed in 2000 under the condition that not more than 100,000 litres of alcohol per year were to be produced. It appears that not even this minimal level of production could be kept up. Fortunately the warehousing so far has provided a steady source of income.

So even if the business was not in risk of imminent failure, it looks as if not all of the shareholders have been happy with how Bladnoch was doing. Obviously it was not possible to give the distillery operation enough momentum to create a sustainable cash flow, even in an economic climate that can only be described as booming.

I have never really grown to love Bladnoch’s style of whisky, but this is not the point here. Most of their whiskies I have tried were made by the previous owners anyway. But it is really sad to see a small distillery going like that, and I truly hope there will be new life breathed into it by new owners as soon as possible.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

sku March 17, 2014 at 4:59 pm

Wow! That’s very sad. Is there a possibility of someone buying the place and keeping it running? Hopefully that will come before selling off the parts.

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Oliver Klimek March 17, 2014 at 5:05 pm

I refuse to believe that Bladnoch will not have a future given the current climate in the whisky business. It is a small distillery and it will not cost the world. And probably it is too small to turn it into a profit center of a conglomerate, so I should think we will see an investor with an interesting plan in due time.

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Bozkurt "bozzy" Karasu March 17, 2014 at 5:10 pm

Now, how much I wish I had some money… Like you said Oliver it shouldn’t cost the world. One of my favorite distilleries and I really don’t want to watch it mothballed… Sad…

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Tanıl March 18, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Me too :-/

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Barry Bradford March 17, 2014 at 5:52 pm

I agree, Sad news – visited the distillery and had a really great time there a few weeks ago. Lets hope someone takes this on and keeps the spirit flowing!

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Chris Fox March 17, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Someone should start a crowd funding initiative so we can all provide some cash and own a bit of distillery!

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ANON March 18, 2014 at 1:25 pm

I’m not sure all of this is entirely true, There seems to be a lot of speculation regarding the current financial state, director’s relationships and various other aspects of the Distillery, Most of which are too far off the mark to mention. The forum is also the equivalent to a tabloid news papers rants.

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Oliver Klimek March 18, 2014 at 1:53 pm

What exactly do you think is not true? Raymond Armstrong himself has confirmed the news. This is certainly not the place for speculations about what has been going on in board meetings. And are you serious in comparing the official Bladnoch distillery forum run by the (now former) management with a tabloid newspaper?

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ANON March 18, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Raymond Armstrong is not the owner despite speculation and claims.A NI based company owned the distillery. Is there any more information as to how this company was placed into liquidation? I doubt its financially based.

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Oliver Klimek March 18, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Owner or not, but Raymond specifically stated on the Bladnoch forum that Bladnoch was not bankrupt. But this does not necessarily mean that the company was raking in cash like mad. There were differences that were taken to court which ruled to put Bladnoch into liquidation. Obviously there was no way to carry on with the current setup of directors and/or shareholders for whatever reason.

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Barry Bradford March 18, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Hi Oliver/ Anon The company has gone into administration not liquidation – these are very different things… I suspect some directors wanted to sell up and get out and others want to stay on and make whisky… linking this to production and cash-flow maybe tenuous at best?

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Oliver Klimek March 18, 2014 at 4:31 pm

I have read conflicting reports about the liquidation vs. administration issue. But even the BBC is reporting about liquidation: http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-south-scotland-26627017 Nor did anyone from the distillery mention “administration” on the Bladnoch Forum where the talk was about “liquidation” as well. So unless there is an official denial, I have to assume it is liquidation.

And I did not intend to create a “cause and effect” impression by sharing my thoughts about Bladnoch’s evident operational problems. In fact I had been wondering for a while why they seem to be struggling when around them everything says “boom”.

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Nozinan March 18, 2014 at 1:44 pm

The spirit from Armstrong’s stills was of the finest quality. I’ve never tried any of the older stuff but this was pure gold. Craft presented. The ENTRY LEVEL was at 46% no colour and no chill filtration.

Most was at or near cask strength and delicious, and priced below many of the branded Scotches. I’d take a bottle of Bladnoch 10 YO sherry cask matured at 55% over JW Blue any day.

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Skeptic March 18, 2014 at 8:23 pm

I agree with you completely. The stuff is liquid heaven. Especially the first 10 year expression. You could buy 4 bottles for the same price as a JW blue, and each bottle would be, in my opinion, many times better. Calculations include price of shipping to the US (for Bladnoch) vs in store purchase of the blue in Ontario.

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Mike Thompson March 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm

Such sad news, I have had a look at Bladnoch’s Forum and read so many reports online. After visiting the distillery in February on a holiday to SW Scotland, I came to the understanding every body was hard at it and Colin Armstrong(I do not know Raymond?)was on the cusp of distillation, only a few H&S issues to easily resolve. The Malt was ordered. The Forum confirms the delivery. Firther more the whisky was excetionally great. A report on W****C*** via twitter claims Colin petitioned for the liquidation? Why would he do so and why would a judge grant so? I do hope this wee Gem stays running for the staff, community and enthusiasts through out the country.

.

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M.Marshall March 18, 2014 at 9:11 pm

Oh dear, I’ve been on the forum and it’s not good! the members comments and Raymonds heart breaking personal replies in their comments makes me wish such a great delicious product could continue. I met colin his brother and business partner earlier this year and from his charm and genuinity combined with Raymonds forum followers, this should have made it, What happened?

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Skeptic March 18, 2014 at 10:05 pm

I wonder what was in the post that he had to delete…

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M.Marshall March 19, 2014 at 9:19 pm

who?

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Skeptic March 19, 2014 at 9:28 pm

There was a post on the forum that Raymond felt he had to delete in order to avoid the impression he was giving less than 100 percent support to the liquidator.

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Oliver Philp March 19, 2014 at 3:11 pm

I’ve only had the pleasure of Bladnoch through SMWS bottlings, spirit produced by the previous owners at that, but it was lovely stuff – light and floral (perhaps too easily overlooked in a market that values powerful expressions).

I hope that a new owner is found and that the distillery produces once again. On a personal note I am due to visit the area in May and had hoped to tour the distillery – fingers crossed!

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