Bruichladdich co-founder Simon Coughlin to retire

Bruichladdich co-founder Simon Coughlin to retire

Coughlin helped to resurrect the Islay distillery in 2001 and has since played a crucial role at the distillery and within its parent company Remy Cointreau

27 July 2023

Bruichladdich Distillery co-founder Simon Coughlin is set to retire.


Coughlin, who revived the Islay distillery in 2000 along with master distiller Jim McEwan and co-founder Mark Reynier, will be stepping down from 31 July 2023.


Prior to his role at Bruichladdich, Coughlin had spent his whole career in the wine and spirits industry, including working as operations director for independent Scotch whisky company Murray McDavid in the 1990s.


Coughlin and Reynier took on the mothballed distillery with the mission to transform it into a progressive whisky-making operation which would challenge the industry status quo and help bring the spirit closer to its agricultural roots.


The distillery reopened in 2001 and, with McEwan's guidance, developed three single malt brands: Bruichladdich, Port Charlotte, and Octomore. Its successful dry gin, The Botanist, followed in 2010.


Bruichladdich Distillery was bought by French drinks conglomerate Remy Cointreau in 2012. Coughlin stepped down from his position as the distillery's CEO in 2017, becoming CEO of its whisky division and a member of the Remy Cointreau executive committee. In the latter role, he led the acquisition of two more single malt business, Westland in Seattle, USA and Domaine des Hautes Glaces in France.


Coughlin said: “Back in 2000 the industry was in a very different place. Distilleries were being mothballed or even demolished, and opportunities for new distilleries to open and thrive were almost non-existent.


“Some of those early years were extremely difficult. We were breaking down many of the misconceptions in the whisky category – not to mention with a very old and neglected distillery – and were committed to carving out a more honest, transparent, and progressive vision for our industry. We’ve always believed in terroir, championing flavour, and harnessing our raw ingredients – while ensuring the island community is at the heart of our decision making. It was undoubtedly a steep learning curve but having a laser sharp focus and never compromising on our vision has got us to where we are today.


“It’s incredible to look at where the industry is now; an explosion of new distilleries globally, people talking flavour, provenance and even terroir. 23 years ago, people thought we were mad! None of this potential could have been realised without a dedicated team – often bemused by our vision and methods, but always unwavering in their support.”


Douglas Taylor, CEO at Bruichladdich Distillery, said: “Simon leaves an incredible long-lasting legacy, following 23 years of dedicated commitment to project Bruichladdich. He and his fellow founders challenged the status quo when it came to resurrecting this distillery in 2001, and his unwavering courage and steadfast belief in authenticity, provenance and traceability are at the heart of our DNA.  


“Simon has been an inspiration to many inside our business and across the world, inspiring a generation of distillers to embark on their own entrepreneurial journey. As the final founder to retire, Simon leaves Bruichladdich in an incredibly strong place and we thank him for everything he has done. I carry the torch forward into our next chapter with honour to ensure we build on his legacy.”

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