Plans to build Lagg Distillery were first announced in 2016 by Isle of Arran Distillers, who were looking to expand to accommodate increased production and visitor numbers, following the success of their production site at Lochranza.
Great progress being made at the new Lagg Distillery on the Isle of Arran. Be part of a new island whisky legacy and join the Lagg Cask Society. Read more here: https://t.co/SyBtMJkWQQ #arran #lagg #laggwhisky #laggdistillery #buyawhiskycask #arranwhisky #scotch pic.twitter.com/StZJI1pogX
— Arran Whisky (@Arranwhisky) September 17, 2018
The new facitlity at Lagg houses two new stills, four wooden washbacks, a visitor centre, restaurant and a shop as well as extra warehouses to store casks from both production sites.
With over a quarter of the reported 450,000 visitors to the island last year taking a trip the original Arran Distillery, the company are hoping Lagg will be able to offer yet another exciting venue for whisky fans to check out.
Euan Mitchell, managing director of Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd, said: “Lagg is steeped in the history of whisky making on the island and we intend to uphold that tradition. The area in which we are building our new facility was the location for a 19th Century distillery."
The first legal distillery on the southside of the island for nearly 200 years after the previous distillery closed in 1837 due to lack of the proper infrastructure and competition from both Campbeltown and Islay, which had steamship links.
Keeping close links to both the island's past and its distilling heritage, the fully accessible visitor centre has displays highlighting the 50 or so illicit stills, which would have studded the southern half of the island, and the much sought after "Arran Water" that they produced.
The site also has a café and restaurant which will provide specially sourced coffee and seasonal dishes produced by an award-winning chef using locally sourced produce.
Designed to produce a peatier spirit, everything at the new site is geared towards a smokier flavour style.
The harder water found at Lagg that is taken from a borehole near the distillery is very different from the soft water in the north and is better suited to the robust liquid that the new distillery is already producing.
The 50ppm peated malt has been sourced from Aberdeenshire, while the four tonne mash tun is full-lauter, meaning the wort is cloudier, adding more flavour to the final liquid, which is described as a "much heavier and denser, almost earthy and rustic spirit".
Currently, the distillery will use mainland peat but has plans to possibly use peat sourced from the island, as well as experimenting with peat from other areas around the country, in future.
As expected, sustainability played a huge part in the planning, with a grass roof installed and plans to use the pot ale and draff to help grow barley in a neighbouring field.
Cask Number One, a Sherry Butt reserved for members of the Lagg Cask Society, was filled and laid down in April this year.
Distillery manager Graham Omand, who is originally from Islay and previously worked at the Lochranza distillery under the tutelage of his uncle, Master distiller James MacTaggart, said: “We’re all thrilled to be celebrating the opening of our spectacular new Lagg Distillery and to bring production back to the traditional heartland of whisky-making on the Isle of Arran.”
“It’s an outstanding achievement from everybody that was involved in the process and something that people on the island and beyond can be very proud of.”
“The whole team here is passionate about bringing Arran’s fascinating whisky story to life and to give it the recognition that it deserves. We can’t wait to start writing the next chapter of this story and welcoming whisky-lovers from around the world to Lagg.”
James MacTaggart added: “It’s incredibly exciting to be taking the very first steps in producing what will eventually be a magnificent Lagg whisky and something truly unique to anything we’ve produced previously.”
Lagg has also unveiled three exclusive whiskies, with two -one finished in quarter casks and one aged in Sherry casks - coming from the Isle of Arran Distillers’ Machrie Moor range and a rum cask-finished whisky bottled under its Arran Malt label.
An orchard has been planted on the distillery grounds and Omand and his team have confirmed they have plans to produce cider as well as a Calvados style brandy that will be used to fill casks which once empty will form the basis of a new expression for the single malt whisky.