£8m investment in Islay distillery

£8m investment in Islay distillery

Whisky bottler and blender Hunter Laing & Co. plans to invest £8m in building a brand new distillery on Islay.

Whisky entrepreneurs Andrew and Scott Laing, along with their father, Stewart, have submitted an application with Argyll and Bute Council to build the new malt whisky distillery at Ardnahoe, on the north east coast of the island.

Should permission be granted for the £8m project, it will be Islay’s first new distillery in a decade, and land currently owned by Islay Estates will be transferred to the whisky company.   

Since Hunter Laing & Co. began operating in May 2013, the independent bottler and blender has been investigating the opportunities for owning its own distillery.

After extensive work, the family pinpointed the four-acre site near Port Askaig as the only viable option to meet the needs for their expanding business. Subject to approvals, the new distillery is expected to see the first drop flow from their stills by the end of 2017.

The building of the distillery is planned in two phases, with the first seeing the establishment of distilling operations, warehousing and a visitor centre comprising of a café, tasting room and shop. The second will see an expansion of distilling operations and further warehousing.

Contractors for the build have been identified and will begin cutting turf in May 2016, pending approval. The distillery will create several full-time positions on the island, as well as a number of seasonal roles.  

Remarking on the opportunity, Stewart Laing, managing director, said: “The surge in demand for single malt Scotch whisky from Islay in recent years has been extraordinary.

"While the established distilleries on the island have been increasing production, there is obvious room for yet further expansion in output as discerning drinkers the world over are charmed by the rich, smoke-filled flavours that have become such an integral part of the island’s style of whisky.

"The new facility is being designed to create a particular style of spirit that we know from our experience of selling whisky in 65 countries around the world will appeal to the Islay whisky lover.

"By building this distillery, we are fulfilling a long held dream."