The first new whisky distillery on Islay in over a decade is now officially open.

Ardnahoe Distillery, on the island’s north-east coast, was opened at a ceremony led by Glasgow-based family firm Hunter Laing & Company, who spent £12 million on the project which was first announced in January 2016.

It expects to welcome 20,000 visitors each year, with up to 30 people employed in retail, dining, tours and other events.

The modern distillery has a traditional mindset in keeping with the spirit of the island that has a rich history in distilling, and is considered to be one of the country’s foremost whisky producing locations.

It has already begun laying down casks and is producing a peated spirit for maturation in ex-American bourbon barrels and former Spanish sherry casks.

Much like Islay neighbours Laphroaig and Ardbeg, its spirit will pack a punch on the peat scale at 40PPM but will use traditional equipment and methods such as wooden washbacks, long fermentation times, worm tubs and what is thought to be Scotland’s longest lyne arms to create a sweeter character to balance out this smokiness.

Managing director Stewart Laing 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.

Ardnahoe

the pagoda roof and the spectacular view. Picture: Ardnahoe

“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.”

The distillery site has perhaps one of the most spectacular views of any of Scotland’s dsitilleries with the sweeping vista of the Sound of Islay and the Paps of Jura visible from the distilleries glass fronted still house and café.

Ardnahoe

The wooden washbacks. Picture: Ardnahoe

The distillery was officially opened at a ceremony on Friday attended by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, and members of the island community and the wider whisky industry.

Ardnahoe

The mash tun. Picture: Ardnahoe

Featuring three tours, a shop and a dedicated café Andrew Laing, export director, said: “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.”

Ardnahoe

The worm tubs. Picture: Ardnahoe

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.”

About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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