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Bunnahabhain begins £10.5m makeover

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Renovation works have started at Bunnahabhain to transform the Islay distillery and visitor centre into a ‘world-class whisky destination’.

Artist's impression of Bunnahabhain distillery refurbishment
Extreme makeover: Bunnahabhain’s upgrades are designed to make the distillery more attractive

The £10.5 million, three-year refurbishment programme will improve the operational flow of the distillery and improve Bunnahabhain’s brand home in a bid to attract more visitors.

The renovations were originally announced in July 2017 by the distillery’s South African owner Distell, as part of plans to overhaul Bunnahabhain’s ‘scruffy’ appearance.

Several warehouses have already been removed from their shoreline position and will be replaced with a new distillery visitor centre.  

The space, which will feature a café and retail area as well as ‘stunning’ views of Bunnahabhain Bay and the Sound of Islay, is anticipated to welcome visitors in 2020.

Additional works at Bunnahabhain include the construction of a new filling store and upgrades to its existing pumphouse and production building, as well as to the six cottages neighbouring the distillery that will be used as holiday accommodation.

Derek Scott, brand director for malts at Distell, said: ‘Our investment programme here at Bunnahabhain is about improving the operational side of our distillery for the long-term future.

‘We are restoring our buildings to their former glory and providing a visitor experience where we don’t just welcome visitors – after the long, winding journey to get here, we help them enjoy a piece of Bunnahabhain life.

‘The plan’s aim is to make the navigation of the site much easier for the visitor and to, in simple terms, declutter it.

‘This will ensure the buildings are more efficient from a storage point of view and located in better-suited, more accessible locations to the production buildings.’

Distell stated that renovations would cause minimal disruption to whisky production and visitors, and Bunnahabhain will continue to mature its whisky on site throughout the refurbishments.

Bunnahabhain has also committed to minimalise the environmental impact of its refurbishment works by recycling 99% of the demolished materials, with the majority reused at the distillery.

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