The first new distillery on Islay since 2005 has opened after a £12m investment from third generation Scottish family-owned Hunter Laing & Company.
Ardnahoe Distillery has plans to welcome 20,000 visitors each year and was officially opened by Rt Hon Lord Robertson of Port Ellen KT GCMG, with an attendance of key members of the island community and wider whisky industry. The distillery is set to create up to 30 new jobs on the island.
The fulfillment of a long-held dream by the family business, which includes Stewart Laing and his two sons Andrew and Scott, Ardnahoe is situated on the island’s north east coast between Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain distilleries.
In keeping with the style of whisky for which Islay has become famed, Ardnahoe is producing a classic peated spirit for maturation in ex-American bourbon barrels and ex-Spanish sherry casks. The distillery combines state-of-the-art building design and technology with traditional distilling practices that include wooden washbacks, Scottish-made lamp glass stills and worm tub condensers. It is the only one if Islay’s nine distilleries to have the latter feature, so drinkers can expect one of the most characterful, complex and enchanting whiskies to come out of the revered island in the future.
The distillery has also benefitted from the know-how of industry veteran Jim McEwan, Master Distiller. The company has an experienced distilling team of eight, and automation is kept to a minimum. Up to 30 total people will be employed across retail, dining, tours and event functions throughout the year.
Advance interest in the distillery has been astonishing with the 400 pre-order casks made available to private enthusiasts and collectors all sold in record time.
Commenting on the new distillery, Stewart Laing, Managing Director, said: “Since working as a teenager at Bruichladdich Distillery over 50 years ago, I have had a huge affinity with Islay and its malt whiskies. When we decided to build our own distillery, there was only one possible location. We have built a great team to manage the distillery and run the visitor centre and in a few years’ time we will be able to drink a great whisky in the classic Islay style, staying true to the island’s heritage with a heavily peated malt.”
Speaking about the Islay welcome on offer, Andrew Laing, Export Director, commented: “We wanted the visitor experience to be at the heart of Ardnahoe. Our family business values and our distillery team, most of whom are islanders and steeped in the whisky industry, offer a warm Islay welcome to all who want to be part of the Ardnahoe journey. Ardnahoe is a distillery that we all can be proud of.”
Highlighting the distillery’s role in the business, Scott Laing, Business Development Director, concluded: “Ardnahoe is one of a series of new developments that will continue to strengthen Hunter Laing over the coming years. We have a strong development team working on new international brands and we are targeting several important new markets that will fuel our continued growth. Ardnahoe is the catalyst that makes this possible without sacrificing our family’s commitment to quality.”