14 new whisky distilleries opening in Scotland soon

Whisky has long been our national drink, but recent times have seen the sector grow - with many new distilleries opening.

Published 14th May 2021
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

The days of a single malt being seen as an elite or ‘old man’s’ drink are slowly dying off, with many people now enjoying whisky cocktails and experimenting with new releases.

Distilleries too are getting creative with different cask finishes - with these subtle additions to the overall taste drawing in those curious as well as long standing aficionados. 

Here we take a look at a range of new distilleries which are set to open soon in Scotland, from historic renovations, to long lost names from ‘ghost’ sites and new builds.  

Midhope Castle distillery

outlander castle distillery

Outlander fans are in for a treat, as Jamie Fraser’s home of Lallybroch (otherwise known as Midhope Castle on the Hopetoun Estate) will soon have a whisky distillery.

Permission was granted for the Midhope Distillery in April 2021, and plans include details on restoring the castle, which is currently an empty shell, to eventually include visitor accommodation.

The Midhope Castle distillery, which will become one of a small number of single malt distilleries in the Lothians, will use barley grown on the Hopetoun Estate, which already has a long tradition of growing and supplying malting barley to the Scottish whisky trade.

Isle of Barra Distillery

In April 2021 the team behind the Isle of Barra Distillers revealed plans to build a new whisky and gin distillery - with a visitor centre - on the Isle of Barra.

Able to house the new 300 litre gin still Ada, as well as a one-tonne single malt installation, the distillery will also have a visitor centre with cafe and bar area.

Speaking at the time managing director Michael Morrison said: “For as long as we can remember and certainly since we launched Isle of Barra Distillers, we’ve consistently been asked if we produce whisky because of the name ‘Barra’ and the instant connection people make with Whisky Galore.

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“The famous novel written by Compton Mackenzie while staying on the Isle of Barra, and the subsequent film followed. A key point to why we feel this distillery will be a success is the vital aspect that we have had a product already on the market for three years, our award-winning Barra Atlantic Gin.”

Michael also recently confirmed that they’re on track to submit a detailed planning application for July, and that they’re working closely with local planners to make sure the plans are sympathetic to the Islands location. 

The estimated cost of the build is £5m, of which £1.25m has been raised in the first six weeks.

Michael explained that: “this has been mainly from private equity investors and the sale of our pre-cask offer. Positive discussions are ongoing with a number of other high net worth individuals and we feel we're heading in the right direction to hit our target figure of £5m.”


Brora Triptych

This iconic ghost distillery is set to reopen this year, after it closed its doors in 1983.

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Originally known as Clynelish, production began in Brora Distillery on the north-east coast of Scotland in 1819 with the backing of the Marquess of Stafford.

In the late 1960s it was decided to expand production by building a new distillery, with the old distillery eventually being used to supply a need for heavily peated whisky for blending.

Between 1972-74 production of ‘Brora’ was in batches, becoming regular in 1975 when the distillery itself was officially renamed Brora. It was however only produced until 1983, when the distillery was closed.

Under the plans approved by Highland Council in October 2018, work started to entirely dismantled the distillery’s historic stillhouse, which dates back almost two centuries to 1819, before it will be meticulously rebuilt stone-by-stone so that it retains its original character but is structurally sound and capable of coming back into production as a working distillery.

At the same time, the copper stills were refurbished as part of the renovation programme by owners Diageo who are spending £35million on an investment programme that’ll see the ‘rebirth’ of Brora and Port Ellen on Islay.

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Rosebank Distillery. Picture: TSPL

Another ghost distillery, Rosebank is set to reopen this summer after its redevelopment under new owners, Ian Macleod Distillers.

Situated on the banks of the Forth and Clyde canal between Edinburgh and Glasgow, the famous distillery lay dormant for a quarter of a century, after it was mothballed in 1993 by former owner UDV (now Diageo) and its maltings were converted into a restaurant.

At the time, it was feared the whisky - which was often referred to as the ‘King of the Lowlands’ – would be gone forever, until Ian Macleod Distillers acquired the Rosebank brand and last remaining stocks in October 2017.

In January 2019 they were granted permission to revive the distillery and have since been putting plans in place to breathe new life into the grounds.

Port Ellen

lost distilleries
Port Ellen's rare whisky is highly sought after. Picture: PA

Back in 2019, Diaego submitted plans that would see the Islay distillery reopen more than 35 years after it was closed.

The detailed plans set out proposals following community engagement and pre-application consultation with key stakeholders.

The distillery’s buildings, which are located on the south coast of the island, have gone through many changes since it first opened in 1824, with the distillery closing and largely being demolished in the 1930s, before being rebuilt in the 1960s. Following its most recent closure in 1983 very few of the original buildings remain.

It is thought that Port Ellen will be brought back into production in a combination of modern and heritage buildings housing both traditional and innovative approaches to distilling.

Elixir Distillers

Elixir Distillers Islay

The famous whisky destination, Islay, is set to get another distillery, as planning permission was granted to Elixir Distillers in February 2021.

Born from a love of Islay and its whiskies, co-founders of Elixir Distillers Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh plan to combine elements of tradition and modernity in both design and production for their new distillery.

The design of the distillery features an exterior that ties in with the traditional look of the other south coast distilleries on Islay, alongside some modern touches that reflect the landscape of the site on which it will be built. Inside there will be floor maltings and plans also detail an on-site, a visitor’s centre and a multi-purpose educational facility.

Dunphail distillery

Bimber Dunphail distillery

The team behind London’s Bimber Distillery confirmed plans to open a new Scottish whisky distillery in Dunphail, south of Forres in the Highlands.

The proposal, which is currently being reviewed by Moray Council, will see an existing farm steading converted into a small (200,000 LA capacity), Scotch whisky distillery that combines tradition and modernity into both its appearance and its production processes.

Dunphail Distillery will feature a floor malting facility and traditional kiln designed to process 100 per cent of the distillery’s locally sourced barley, as well as a modern visitor centre, blending rooms and dunnage warehousing.

Pending planning consent and construction, distillation is expected to commence at the site in 2022. The distillery aims to produce a full-bodied, fruit-forward spirit in both unpeated and peated styles.

Glen Luss

One of Scotland's most picturesque lochside towns is set to get its own distillery and brewery as planning permission was granted for Glen Luss in March. The first of its kind to hit the shores of Loch Lomond, Glen Luss is an experimental craft brewery and distillery set to be erected in Luss.

Plans include Discovery and Learning Centres, where visitors can learn more about the area’s rich local history as well as the brewing and distilling process at the site in addition to the Craft Brewery and Distillery itself, and a Making & Tasting Experience Centre and Cask Experience Centre.

8 Doors Distillery

8 Doors Distillery is a new Scotch whisky micro-distillery and visitor centre set to open in John O’Groats in 2021, after planning permission was granted in March 2020.

The £1 million project will establish the first whisky producer in the Caithness village since 1837. It is a dream come true for its founders, local husband and wife team Kerry and Derek Campbell, who have developed a passion for Scotch over many years.

The new Highland Single Malt Whisky will be produced using John O’Groats’ water extracted from a borehole on the distillery site.

The whisky flavour profile will be influenced by the local climate and its situation right beside the sea – hence the strapline ‘Whisky. From the Edge’.

Port of Leith

port of leith distillery

Foundations were laid for The Port of Leith Distillery in 2020. The building is a vertical distillery which will rise 40 metres above the quayside, a stone’s throw from the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The flagship distillery – due to open in 2022 – will feature a top floor double height whisky bar, with views to Edinburgh Castle, two copper stills and the capacity to produce up to million bottles of single malt a year.


Ardgowan Coppersmith whisky
An exterior shot of Ardgowan Whisky Distillery visualised on it’s planned site near the Ardgowan Estate.

The Ardgowan Distillery was given the go ahead back in 2017 by Inverclyde Council. The new £12 million whisky production facility and visitor centre is located within a lowland estate which has links to Bannockburn, King Robert the Bruce and descendants of Pocahontas.

The new distillery will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, which was founded in 1896 and located in Baker Street, Greenock. Currently the team have released two limited editions as part of the Clydebuilt series.


The 222-acre Lochlea Farm near Tarbolton in Ayrshire has been transformed into a brand new whisky distillery, visitor centre and cask warehousing.

The distillery adds Ayrshire's already rich distilling landscape with William Grant & Son’s Girvan and Ailsa Bay distilleries operating in nearby Girvan.

The Lochlea Farm site already has strong links to Robert Burns, Scotland's national bard, and will help to boost tourism in the area.

Social media posts show the progress made, with an opening date expected soon.

Eden Mill

Supplied by Eden Mill/OLA Date; Unknown

Scottish distillers Eden Mill recently revealed plans for one of Scotland’s first ever carbon neutral single malt whisky distilleries. The £10million venture will welcome visitors to their new home in Guardbridge, St. Andrews in 2022.

Located within the University of St. Andrews’ Eden Campus, power and heat for the stills will be supplied by a local energy network generated by biomass plant and field electricity, and also solar panels installed by the University on the roof of the distillery and nearby buildings.

Known for cake making, experimental jam recipes, Champagne, whisky and gin drinking (and the inability to cook Gnocchi), Rosalind is the Food and Drink Editor and whisky writer for The Scotsman, as well as hosting Scran, The Scotsman's food and drink podcast.
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