Scotch whisky is booming and the number of new whisky distilleries is on the rise in Scotland, we thought we would take a look at some of the most exciting projects on the way.
With Scotch making up just under 75 per cent of Scotland’s food and drink exports and whisky being viewed as one of Scotland’s most valuable economic and cultural assets, it seems that there’s never been a more vibrant time to get into distilling.
From gin makers to independent bottlers, there’s a huge amount of both time and money being invested in creating and growing new distilleries.
Here we take a look at some of the most exciting new projects that are currently being planned, under construction or have just begun production.
The Whisky of the Future
(Region: Lowland, Location: Polmont, Owners: The Falkirk Distillery Company, due date: October 2017)
The Falkirk Distillery is due to open this year after three years of construction. Picture: Michael Gillen
The Falkirk Distillery Company is in the latter stages of constructing its development at Polmont and hopes to open it to the public by October this year at the latest, after first gaining planning permission back in 2009.
Brother and sister directors Alan and Fiona Stewart hope the new Falkirk Distillery will draw around 75,000 visitors per year, adding to the district’s other landmark attractions such as the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies.
Distillery consultant George Stewart said: “It’s been a long time to get here but we have made sure we are getting it right.
“We have had great support from the bigger players in the whisky who have offered their whiskies to sell and since the signs have went up we’ve had a lot of interest about jobs.”
The Borders Distillery
(Region: Lowland, Location: Hawick, Owners: The Three Stills Company, due date: August 2017)
Founded by former William Grant executives John Fordyce, Tim Carton, Tony Roberts and George Tait, this new distillery is set to be the first in the Borders since 1837.
The trio, operating under the name of The Three Stills Company Ltd announced in November last year that they had secured funding for the new £10million distillery and visitor centre in Hawick.
They have plans to begin production as early as the end of this month (August).
(Region: Lowland, Location: Glasgow, Owners: Morrison Glasgow Distillers Ltd, Due Date: September 2017)
The new stills going in at Clydeside Distillery. Picture: contibuted
This new project is well on the way to completion and will create the second single malt distillery in Glasgow (following The Glasgow Distilling Company) and has transformed the Pump House, located near the Hydro, into the new Clydeside Distillery.
Tim Morrison, formerly of Morrison Bowmore Distillers and current proprietor of the AD Rattray Scotch Whisky Company has headed up the project along with a team of private investors and the £10.5m venture aims to be up and running late 2017.
They’ve already installed their stills, hired a distillery manager and are currently recruiting the rest of their team, production is due to start in September this year.
Douglas Laing & Co. (as yet unnamed) Distillery
(Region: Lowland, Location: Glasgow, Owners: Douglas Laing & Co., Due Date: 2018\19)
The planned location for Glasgow’s newest distillery. Picture: contributed
Popular Glasgow-based whisky company Douglas Laing & Co. became the latest independent bottlers to launch their very own distillery when they announced plans to build a new £10.7 million distillery and bottling complex on the banks of the River Clyde at the end of July.
The new site at Pacific Quay, will see the creation of a new corporate head office for the brand, a visitor centre, a whisky laboratory and archive, bar and bistro, as well as the new distillery.
Holyrood Park Distillery
(Region: Lowland, Location: Edinburgh, Owners: David Robertson, Due Date: Early 2018)
An artist’s impression of the distillery. Picture; contributed
The plans for this new distillery in Edinburgh’s city centre meant the first single malt whisky to be made in the capital in more than 90 years could soon be a reality.
When completed, it will be Edinburgh’s first single malt whisky distillery since Glen Sciennes closed in the 1920s.
The project aims to transform a former Engine Shed building on St Leonard’s Lane into the Holyrood Park Distillery and visitor centre.
A £5.5 million fundraising drive was launched in June and the distillery has already hired several industry experts and consultants including Jack Mayo as head distiller, with doors expected to open in 2018.
(Region: Lowlands, Location: Fife, Owners: John Fergus & Co Ltd, Due Date: Already in production)
Picture: Inchdairnie Distillery
InchDairnie distillery first appeared on our radar two years ago – July 2014, to be exact – when it was first announced construction would begin on a new site on the outskirts of Kinglassie in Fife, since then it had become something of an enigma.
However, May last year this innovative new distillery opened its doors to a small group of writers and bloggers, announcing that it had already begun production.
Run by industry veteran Ian Palmer, the new distillery is notable for its use of a mash filter instead of a mash tun, a hammer mill and a third Lomond still for experimentation.
The first InchDairnie single malt scotch whisky is expected to be available to consumers around 2029, with the distillery also making a malt for blending to sell to other distillers such as its strategic partner MacDuff International.
(Region: Lowlands, Location: Inverkip, Owners: Ardgowan Distillery Company, Due Date: 2019)
The plans to build this new £12m distillery on the grounds of the Ardgowan Estate were announced in March this year.
Green-lit by Inverclyde Council, construction has begun and could see the new whisky production facility and visitor centre up and running by 2019 on the site near Inverkip, 30 miles outside Glasgow.
The new distillery will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, which was founded in 1896 and was previously located in Baker Street, Greenock before being destroyed in the May Blitz of 1941.
(Region: Highland and Islands, Location: Isle of Raasay, Owners: R&B Distillers, Due Date: September 2017)
The multimillion-pound Raasay Distillery is set to produce 150,000 bottles a year. Picture: contributed
Having received planning permission in February 2016, whisky makers R&B Distillers are set to officially open the Isle of Raasay Distillery, the first legal whisky distillery on the small Hebridean island.
The new site on Raasay will be furnished with two copper pot stills sourced from Frilli in Tuscany and R&B predict that it will be able to produce 150,000 bottles of Scotch whisky a year.
Raasay local, Norman Gillies, has been appointed as Distillery Manager while brewing and distilling graduate Iain Robertson has joined as head distiller.
(Region: Islay, Location: Islay, Owners: Hunter Laing & Co., Due Date: Early 2018)
An artist’s impression of how the new distilleyr will look. Picture: contributed
Another hugely popular independent bottler, Hunter Laing & Co. were given the green light from Argyll and Bute Council to build the first new malt whisky distillery on Islay in over a decade, last year.
The Glasgow based whisky company have begun construction at the site at Ardnahoe, on the north east coast of Islay near Port Askaig.
Plans for the site also include a visitor centre comprising of a café, tasting room and shop. The distillery will create many full-time positions on the island, as well as a number of seasonal roles and will be situated close to the Bunnahabhain and Caol Ila distilleries.
Scott Laing, company director at Hunter Laing & Co., said: “Our father [Stewart] spent time on Islay early in his career while working for a brief spell at Bruichladdich. He has always had a natural affinity with the island and we’re all fans of the peaty style of whisky it is renowned for so it’s wonderful to be able to build a distillery on the island.”
Lindores Abbey Distillery
(Region: Lowlands, Location: Cupar, Owners: Drew and Helen McKenzie Smith, Due Date: Autumn 2017)
An artist’s impression of how the new distillery will look. Picture: Lindores Abbey Distillery
Often described as the birthplace of the “water of life”, the derelict Lindores Abbey in Fife, the site of the first written evidence of whisky distillation in Scotland is set to be restored to its former glory with a new £5 million distillery and visitor centre built close by.
First announced in 2013, construction began last year and founder and managing director Drew McKenzie Smith and his team hope to get the whisky making underway soon after production was delayed when consultant distiller and industry legend Jim Swan – who was heavily involved in the project – sadly passed away earlier this year.
Notable mentions (Planning stages)
Port of Leith Distillery – A new £5 million distillery is to be built at Leith.
Toulvaddie Distillery – The new distillery, to be built on an old naval airfield in Ross-shire to become first new whisky distillery founded by a woman in almost 200 years
Dunrobin Castle – New distillery to be launched at the site of the castle by Lizzie Sutherland, the granddaughter of the Countess of Sutherland and the daughter of Lord and Lady Strathnaver, along with her husband Boban Costin.
Already producing spirit
These new distilleries will join the current raft of new distilleries which include:
Kingsbarns (Fife, 2014), Annandale (Annan, 2014), Ailsa Bay (Girvan, 2007), Eden Mill (St Andrews, 2014), Glasgow (Glasgow, 2015) and Daftmill (Fife, 2005)
Highlands and Islands
Strathearn (Perthshire, 2013), Roseisle (Morayshire, 2009), Ardnamurchan (Glenbeg, 2014), Abhainn Dearg – pronounced Aveen Jarek (Isle of Lewis, 2008), Harris (Isle of Harris, 2015), Arbikie (Arbroath, 2015), Dornoch (Dornoch, 2016), Torabhaig (Isle of Skye, 2016\17)
Ballindalloch (Banffshire, 2014) and Dalmunach (Carron, 2015)
About The Author
Driven by a passion for all things whisky-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over six years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink.