Independent whisky bottler Hunter Laing & Co has revealed plans to build an £8 million malt whisky distillery on Islay.
Designed to produce liquid that ‘appeals to the Islay whisky lover’, the distillery will be situated in Ardnahoe on the north east coast of the island.
A request for planning permission has been submitted to Argyll and Bute Council to develop the project on a greenfield site currently owned by Islay Estates. Should planning permission be approved, the land will be transferred to Hunter Laing.
The distillery will be Islay's first new build in a decade, following the opening of Kilchoman in 2005.
The company, which bottles brands including Old & Rare and Hepburn’s Choice, said its decision to build a distillery on Islay was influenced by the surge in demand for single malts from the island in recent years.
Stewart Laing, managing director of Hunter Laing, said: ‘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.’
Since creating the company in May 2013, Hunter Laing & Co has been searching for an ideal site to build its own distillery.
Pending approvals, work is expected to start on the build in May 2016, with the distillery due to start production by the end of 2017 when distilling operations, warehousing and a visitors’ centre complete with café, shop and tasting room will also be established.
A second building phase will follow to expand distilling operations and build further warehousing on the site.
Andrew Laing, director, said: ‘We have shown formidable growth in the last two years and the time is now right for us to invest for the future. While this is our family’s first foray into distilling, my father’s 50-year record of blending quality products of high demand and our three generations of expertise in the whisky industry ensures we enter this venture with strong confidence.’
Lord Margadale, chairman of Islay Estates which owns around 55,000 acres of the island of Islay, said the project would ‘contribute considerably’ to Islay’s economy through the provision of jobs and demand for Islay barley.
‘Islay is a beautiful, tranquil and fertile island that is famed for its distinctive whisky; this is an exciting opportunity to build on this reputation and to help secure a strong economic future for the Island,’ he said.