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Issue 95 - Lomond's Formidable Distiller

Whisky Magazine Issue 95
April 2011

 

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Lomond's Formidable Distiller

It isn't on the list of distilleries that more than a million visitors to Scotland descend upon each year. it isn't situated on some windswept, romantic, island shore and it isn't very pretty. But it is very, very clever. Neil Wilson finds out more

?Situated on an industrial estate in Alexandria at the south end of the loch that gave its name to it when distilling commenced here in 1966, Loch Lomond Distillery was built as part of the US Barton Brands empire. By 1984 it had closed and after a brief period under the ownership of Inver House Distillers it was bought by one of Scotch whisky's most reclusive entrepreneurs, Sandy Bulloch. Production was kick-started again in 1987 and from that point onwards the distillery gradually evolved into one of the most innovative whisky-making complexes in Scotland.

The reasons for this evolution can be traced to the work ethic that existed between Bulloch and his business partner, his sister, Irene. Together they made a formidable, self-reliant team who steadily, without fuss or self-promotion, built up the family's businesses having started from a single grocery store in Glasgow before moving into wholesaling, blending, bottling and bonded warehousing near Mauchline, Ayshire. That independent streak meant they were content to grow their business without becoming members of any trade association or to frequent industry social gatherings. Ultimately, their activities in the retail trade brought them into conflict with the DCL in 1978. Johnnie Walker Red Label was withdrawn from the UK market after the DCL lost a case in the European Court that they brought against the Bullochs after the family had refused to stop their parallel importation of the brand from Europe for their retail o...

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