Ardgowan Distillery unveils sustainable building plans - including a Nordic hall 'cathedral to whisky'

The Ardgowan Distillery has unveiled ambitious new plans for their landmark distillery and visitor centre which will commence construction this year.

Published 7th Jan 2022
Updated 8 th Aug 2023

The new design for the Ardgowan distillery uses low environmental impact composite cladding, timber and steel materials to create a light-filled modern Nordic long hall.

The building is designed to provide an ergonomic energy efficient distillery and to maximise the visitor experience and will incorporate a glass-walled ‘sky platform’ with views of the Clyde.

The company has already pledged their new distillery will be carbon negative and are working with specialist distillery engineers Briggs of Burton to ensure the flagship building has the latest innovations in energy reduction, heat recovery and carbon capture.

The new plans for the site on the Ardgowan Estate, 30 miles west of Glasgow, supersede a previous design which secured planning consent in 2019.

The Ardgowan Distillery have submitted their revised design to Inverclyde Council with a response anticipated early next year.

In June the Ardgowan Distillery confirmed the Inverclyde project would go ahead following new investment of £8.4 million led by principal investor Roland Grain and additional investment from Distil Plc.

Depending on the planning process, the company hopes the distillery will be operational in 2023.

Commenting on the proposal, Roland Grain said: “My passion for whisky began as a teenager in Austria when I began to collect Scotch whisky and my wish is for this project to create the highest possible quality whisky and a lasting connection to the community in Inverclyde.

“Central to this is our innovative building – designed by leading Austrian architects Spitzbart and Partners.

"This very modern Nordic long hall is pointing skyward, symbolising resurrection and our rise from the ashes of the former Ardgowan Distillery, which burned down in the Greenock Blitz in May 1941, and also our ambition to become one of the top whiskies in the world.

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“I hope it will stand out as a ‘cathedral to whisky’ and put this corner of Inverclyde firmly on the tourist map.

“Ardgowan Estate is less than an hour’s drive from Glasgow and in 2019 Greenock welcomed more than 100,000 cruise ship visitors, so I believe there is a great opportunity to draw people here with a first-class food, drink and retail experience.”

The plans have been welcomed by Ardgowan Estate owner Sir Ludovic Shaw Stewart who added: “This is a truly iconic and visionary design, one that is commensurate with the Ardgowan Distillery’s aspirations to create a landmark visitor destination in Inverclyde.”

It has also been welcomed by local MSP Stuart McMillan who said: “I have been fully supportive of the proposal to establish the Ardgowan Distillery in Inverkip.

"This distillery will be a fantastic addition for Inverclyde and will become a major tourism attraction. I wish the project every success and look forward to seeing the distillery open for business.”

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Distillery CEO Martin McAdam said: “This project will be a major boost to the local economy – both during construction and in operation. We estimate the distillery and visitor centre will create up to 47 new jobs within five years.

“We have already made our first local hire – our Production Coordinator Matt Blair is from Greenock – and we will be advertising construction tenders early next year.

“We have a very strong commitment to employing locally. Already we work with Gourock property specialists Bowman Rebecchi and Port Glasgow suppliers Scotcrest, and our ambition is to use local firms and employees as much as we can.

“Our goal is to build a world-class whisky distillery and visitor centre which will attract tourists and bring economic and social benefits to Inverclyde.”

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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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