Scotch whisky blender and bottler Hunter Laing & Co. is set to move into distilling for the first time with the build of a new malt distillery on Islay.
Also marking Islay’s first new distillery in 10 years, the as-yet-unnamed site will be based at Ardnahoe, on the North East coast of the island.
Whisky entrepreneur brothers Andrew and Scott Laing, along with their father, Stewart, have submitted plans to Argyll and Bute Council to build the £8 million distillery on land currently owned by Islay Estates.
If plans are approved, the ownership of the land will be transferred to Hunter Laing and whisky production is expected to commence by the end of 2017.
The company said it has been “investing in opportunities” to open its own distillery since forming in 2013.Hunter Laing was created following the demerger of Douglas Laing & Sons. Stewart Laing’s brother Fred runs fellow bottler and blender Douglas Laing & Co.
“We have shown formidable growth in the last two years and the time is now right for us to invest for the future,” said Andrew Laing, director of the company.
“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.”
In 2014, planning permission was granted for the owner of Brittany distillery Glann ar Mor to build Islay’s ninth distillery, Gartbreck.
However, while construction was slated to commence in May 2014, and production by autumn 2015, the company recently revealed that “unexpected difficulties” had been encountered arising from a “missing plot of land”.
As such, Jean Donnay, owner of Glann ar Mor, said he will start building the distillery during the second quarter 2016 with a view to start production by spring or summer 2017. The distillery will use traditional production methods and Islay-grown barley.
Due to delays in the construction of Gartbreck, Hunter Laing claims it will open Islay’s first new distillery in a decade.
“Our family has had a long affiliation with Islay and my father spent time in the early part of his career at Bruichladdich Distillery,” said Scott Laing, who is also director of the company. “The opportunity to bring fresh investment to the island, create jobs and provide a new chapter in Islay’s illustrious whisky-making history is tremendously exciting for all of us.”
The distillery will be built in two phases. The first will see the establishment of distilling operations, warehousing and a visitor centre comprising of a café, tasting room and shop. The second will see an expansion of distilling operations and further warehousing.
Construction work on the distillery, based on a four-acre site near Port Askaig, is expected to commence in May 2016, if approval is granted.
Stewart Laing, managing director, 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. By building this distillery, we are fulfilling a long held dream. ”
Hunter Laing’s application is now subject to a 21-day public consultation period.