It seems that every other week a new distillery is planned, granted permission or has been built up and down Scotland. In fact, from 2010 to 2015 the HMRC granted over 150 distilling licenses! Admittedly most of these licenses have been granted to companies planning to produce vodka and gin, however, there at least 40 of these distilleries that plan to produce our beloved single malt scotch. How can you keep with all these developments, how can you keep up to date with the all this new whisky? Fortunately, we are doing that for you – and in alphabetical order!
Rosebank produced the last whisky to come out of Falkirk in 1993 and for twenty three years the region has remained silent. In 2010, the Falkirk Distillery Company put broke ground one their £5 million project which would end the years of the regions silence. Once finished the distillery will be producing a lowland-style, triple distilled – similar to the flavours of Rosebank. In fact, in 2008 there were plans to move the stills from Rosebank to the Falkirk distillery but they were unfortunately stolen by metal thieves. Nevertheless, permission was granted in 2010 alongside a grant of £444,000 from the Scottish government. There were rumours at the distillery would be producing their whisky under the Rosebank name, but these were quickly quashed by Diageo who stills own the trademark.
Now, if you’ve read the first three parts of this series you may be wondering what has taken so long. Despite breaking ground on the 1st November 2010 construction actually began in 2013. After many delays Falkirk distillery announced construction was 80% complete in August of 2015. However, considering this was expected to be a one year construction project and the companies claims that the distillery would be finished in 6 or 7 months after August- not much has been heard from Falkirk distillery this year! I have scoured, researched and attempted to scavenge information about the distillery who are extremely tight lipped – it doesn’t seem like they have updated their website in five years. It states that they were going to release a range of single cask whiskies from closed and working distilleries under the name Signature Selection but I’ve not been able to find a whiff of that either. The only news I have found is on a forum on the Scotch Malt Whisky website. A user posted on 06/11/2016 that they walk past the site daily and have noticed newly installed lights, doors and windows and that site looked entirely weather weather tight. Nevertheless, it’s concerning that the company has been so silent. When and if construction is completed Falkirk distillery hopes to produce 60,000 litres a year, employ up to 86 people and is expected to bring 75,000 visitors a year! Here’s to hoping that whisky flows again from Falkirk.
Forth Bridge Distillery
Forth Bridge Brewery and Distillery, nestled under South Queensferry Crossing, will be the one of the first whisky distillery in Edinburgh since the closure of Glen Sciennes in 1925. In the late 1700s, their was a recorded eight licensed distilleries and four hundred illicit stills in Edinburgh and it is time that Edinburgh’s malt whisky history was resurrected! This will not be the first time South Queensferry will be a part of whisky history having formerly been the home to famous Vat 69 blended whisky.The distillery hoped to raise £3 million and had received £500,000 in funding from backers almost immediately in 2014. Once completed, the distillery is estimated to draw 20,000 visitors a year!
Forth Bridge is the brain child of David Robertson, former member of British sailing team, and will be one of Britain’s first sustainable breweries and distilleries. Forth Bridge will reduce its CO2 emissions by 2,000 tonnes by turning spent grain into biomass fuel. This reduction is the equivalent of driving from Edinburgh to Beijing and back about 8,000 times – a massive 39,424,000 miles! This is only a fraction of the U.K’s 180 million tonnes of CO2 produced by wasted spent grain – the same amount of CO2 as driving to the moon and back 12.5 million times. This is the step in the right direction and hopefully we will see the industry as a whole through the U.K reduce their emissions! However, this is not the end to David’s innovation. In late 2014, David revealed he hoped to use a secret process to help speed up the maturation of spirits. He himself admitted that this may controversial with ‘purists’ but we shall wait to see any results before we pass judgement!
Forth Bridge Brewery/Distillery will produce 110,000 litres of beer, whisky, vodka and gin with two of its six stills producing a secret ‘tipple with a twist’. Forth Bridge plan to release a whisky, beer, gin and vodka by the end of 2016/the beginning of 2017. So far Forth Bridge has produced a number of beers and spirits, including Life’s a Pitch – a spicy Rye IPA – and their oak aged gin! Aged for 30 days, it more looks like a whisky than a gin and its said to taste like Christmas!
A new distillery is always exciting but a new distillery on Islay get the heart racing! Set to be the 9th distillery on Islay, Gartbreck is the new project by Jean Donnay, the owner of Glann ar Mor distillery in Brittany. The distillery situated on the shores of Loch Indaal, just mile outside of Bowmore, the distillery will be maintained using traditional methods including a live flame to heat the copper stills. Donnay secured the funding for Gartbreck in 2015, resolved an issue with a plot of land and announced that construction would begin in Spring of 2016 and that production would commence in Spring or Summer of 2017. Admittedly, later than the original 2014 construction and 2015 production dates but still not that far away.
Gartbreck will draw water from the Gruund Loch just 900 metres away and 20% of the barley used will be from Islay and the other 80% will be from mainland Scotland. As well as traditional flame heated stills Gartbreck will use floor malting and a kiln for that
Until the whisky is ready Gartbreck will act as an independent whisky, gin and vodka bottler. 20% of its barley will be from islay and the rest will be shipped from mainland Scotland. Also selling casks. plans for 120,000 litres per year. Predominantly aged in bourbon casks with a limited number of sherry casks. 100% peated. Two fire heated copper pot stills. Plans to begin production at the end of 2016/early 2017.
William Mitchell, son of Archibald Mitchel – founder of Springbank, originally ran the Springbank Distillery with his brother John Mitchell. Following an argument – allegedly over a sheep – William Mitchell left Springbank and formed his own distillery on the corner of Glebe Street and Glengyle road, thus the name Glengyle Distillery. Glengyle is actually just one of three distillery owned by the family, the others being Springbank and Rieclachan (run by their brother and sister). Glengyle suffered greatly during the economic downturn of the early 20th Century and was sold to the West Highland Malt Distillery in 1919. West Highland sold it again in 1924 for £300 before it ceased production with all of its stock auctioned in the same year.
Glengyle Distillery was well preserved and there was a number of attempts to revive it. The first attempt was a mere sixteen years after its closure, by the Bloch Brothers – owners Glen Scotia – but war prevented it. Campbell Henderson attempted again in 1957, investing £250,000 but failing. In 2000, 75 years after last production of spirits, Mitchell’s Glengyle ltd was formed by Mr Hedley Wright – the chair of J&A Mitchell & Co and great-great-nephew of William Mitchell. The distillery produces the Glengyle spirit under the name Kilkerran because Glengyle is currently being used for a Highland malt blend. The name Kilkerran is derived from Ceann Loch Cille Chiarain which was the original name of the settlement of St Kerran. The Mitchell family received welcome help from other distilleries; such as second hand stills from Ben Wyvis, which were altered, and a mill from Craigellachie. Glengyle has released a plethora of whisky, many under the Work in Progress series, but most recently the Kilkerran 12 year old.
GlenWyvis can trace its origins in the 17th century Ferintosh – formerly named Ben Wyvis (not linked to the Ben Wyvis distillery that closed in 1977) – and the Glenskiach distillery, who both opened and closed in unison. The GlenWyvis site is on the lands of Ferintosh near Dingwall. The Dingwall area is historic with a unique position in history making and was mentioned several times by the Highland mystic the Brahan Seer. In 1689, the lands of Duncan Forbes of Culloden were sacked by Jacobites in retaliation for his support of King William of Orange. As recompense, Forbes was allowed to distil and sell whisky duty free for a annual fee of 400 Scottish merks. Many distilleries opened on the Ferintosh estate, the right was withdrawn due to its unfair advantage. Nevertheless, twenty-nine legal stills operated for a decade after the end of the privilege. The areas whisky heritage will forever be memorialised in Robert Burns wrote the poem Memories of Ferintosh Distillery.
In 1879, an industrial distillery was opened under the name of Ben Wyvis and produced over 72,000 litres a year, drawing from the Loch Ussie. It was sold in 1887 and sold again in 1893 to a Belfast firm who renamed it Ferintosh Distillery. Ferintosh was liquidated in 1924 and transferred to John Begg ltd, finally closed in 1926. The history of the Glenskiach is far less complicated! The distillery was opened in 1896, survived WWI and closed in 1926 finally being demolished in 1933.
GlenWyvis is part of a new generation of Crowdfunded distilleries! GlenWyvis achieved aim of £1.5 million on 23rd June 2016 and received an astonishing £2.5 million+ by the 8th July 2016! A distillery fully funded by whisky drinkers! Construction of GlenWyvis began in June 2016 and the first run of whisky is planned for Burns Night, 25 January 2017. Initially, the distillery will produce 30,000 litres and years with plans to produce 200,000 litres a year. Plans to release 8 year old in the middle of 2020! GlenWyvis will make use of renewable energies such as biomass and solar thermal. GlenWyvis will use water from the Skiach river and Tulloch springs.