New Scotch Distilleries to Watch – Part 6!

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 up 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!

Lindores Distillery

Lindores Abbey, on the outskirt of Newburgh, is considered by some to be the spiritual home of whisky due to its mention in the earliest written reference to distillation in Scottish history. In 1494 Father John Cor paid a duty on 8 ‘bolls’ malt to be used to make aqua vitae for James IV – enough for 1,500 bottles. The man behind the resurrection of Lindores is Drew McKenzie-Smith whose family have owned the abbey and farm for over one hundred years! The cost of the project will be around £5 million. The distillery itself will be constructed on the two hundred year old farm steading which itself was built from stone from abbey. The building is being carefully demolished and the stone will be reused. The project was set in motion in July of this year and construction should be finished next summer. 

McKenzie-Smith will grow the barley in his own fields. McKenzie-Smith grows his own barley in the spirit of Lindores’ history:

“We’ll be used the fields that the monks used five hundred years ago to make aqua vitae. We’ll be using the same fields under the same sunshine.’ 

The water will come from the ‘Holy Burn’ that the monks themselves dug five hundred years ago. As well as this it has been hinted at a peated expression as well, referencing the monks who bought 200 carts of peat to the monastery 600 years ago. A special bottling may also be released with a special strain of yeast that has been researched at Heriot-Watt University and could have been used by Cor himself. 

Production is due to commence in September 2017. McKenzie-Smith and Dr Jim Swan, Lindores’ whisky consultant, visited Louisville to explore the possibility of using bourbon barrels from Woodford Reserve. It is also possible that Lindores’ will source Sherry casks from Spain. Alongside the distillery and visitor centre, Lindores will have its own warehouse that will be able to store up to one thousand casks. It has been revealed that part of the warehouse will be heated to allow experimentation in maturation. As well as producing whisky Lindores will also produce gin and a liqueur. A royalty from the sale of every bottle is likely to go to the trust that will preserve the abbey.

Loch Eriboll

Loch Eriboll

Loch Eriboll will be one of the most northern whisky distilleries in Scotland, overtaking Old Pulteney and Wolfburn. . Loch Eriboll Distillery ltd is headed by David Morrison, who already has ties to the industry through his company Broxburn Properties which provides maturation facilities to distilleries. The owner of the land offered to sell the two acre plot of land to Morrison for £1. The distillery will produce whisky, vodka and gin. There are also plans for an attached microbrewery as well!

Morrison won a rare to scale model of the HMS Hood that will be on display at the distillery. The HMS Hood, once the pride of the British navy, often visited the nearby town of Laird during the interwar years and became regular sight for the small town. 

There may not much activity or news in terms of construction but the company itself is still registered. Hopefully we will see progress the coming year. 

Lochlea Distillery

The land where Robert Burns once worked the soil will one day, hopefully, be home to a distillery. Lochlea farm in Ayrshire will add to the region’s distilling industry with William Grant & Son’s Girvan and Ailsa Bay just down the road! 

The new distillery is being driven forward by Neil McGeoch, businessman and lifelong farmer. Once the South Ayrshire council granted permission McGeoch affirmed is commitment with the selling of his beloved cattle to make way for the new distillery. 

Since the South Ayrshire council granted permission there have no other updates, but Lochlee Distillery Company is still a registered and active company. Hopefully, one day, the 222-acre farm will be producing a single malt that we can all enjoy. McGeoch’s application for construction can also be found online. 

Lone Wolf Distillery

It’s more than likely you’ve heard about Lone Wolf. Brewdog, the self style ‘punk’ brewers and makers of incredibly tasty beers has plunged head first into their new venture – spirits. At the heart of this venture, unsurprisingly, is experimentation. Brewdog has professed that they want to shake up the industry that they believe to be stale. At the head of this experimentation and ‘shake-up’ is Lone Wolf’s Master Distillery Steven Kersley. Kersley is not just some new-blood on the scene he studied the art of brewing and distilling at university and has been employed by Linkwood, Teaninich and Benrinnes. The best way to sum-up Kersley is to quote ‘fuck yields, flavour wins’. 

Lone Wolf will be producing a grain to glass whisky, vodka and gin. They believe that the phrase ‘craft distilling’ has been bastardised to meaning small output but nothing else. They wish to challenge this and craft every element of their spirits by hand. However, enough rhetoric! On to the facts. 

Lone Wolf is located at Brewdog HQ in Ellon, Scotland. There are four stills so far; three copper pot stills and one column still. Two of the pot stills will have a three thousand litre capacity and the other is just fifty litres. This fifty litre still will be used by Kersley for some ‘batshit crazy’ experimentation which could result in some very interesting drams in the future. The other two pot stills are individually interesting. The first has a triple bubble neck which will create a lot of copper interaction with the spirit for a meatier product. The other is a lot normal looking but his hooked up to a complex condensing system, including a second condenser with temperature control and a catalytic converter which will allow for further copper interaction. Lone Wolf will be producing 125,000 litres in its first year of production. The casks will be sourced from France, Spain, the U.S. and probably more. We can expect a huge range of different casks; from previous content to wood used. Whilst you may not be a fan of Brewdog’s flowery language, you can’t deny that this isn’t interesting. Kersley isn’t phased by the fact that a number of his future creations won’t be classed as Scotch. Though, we can still expect 75% of Lone Wolf’s production to be recognisable but 25% will be batshit crazy. 

Lone Wolf has currently released two prototypes packages, each including a gin and a vodka. You can find the exact details here.

Portavadie Distillery

Portavadie may have slipped under your radar and admittedly they have been quiet for some time now. The Portavadie Distillery was first proposed in 2012 – now some of you might dismiss Portavadie, think the project is dead and so on. In comparison to other distilleries Portavadie has taken quite sometime but there is very good reason for that. As well as building a distillery, warehouse and visitor centre Portavadie Distillery has to demolish a whole village. Now don’t worry, Polphail village has been been abandoned for quite some time. 

Polphail was built in the mid to late 1970s to provide homes for five hundred workers of a nearby oil rig. There have been a number of attempts to redevelop the area but it seems that Portavadie Distillery will be the project that brings life back to the area. The Argyll and Bute council granted permission to the distillery in March earlier this year. Darren Baird architecture was commissioned to produce the masterplan for the distillery, three bonded warehouses, visitor centre, retail outlet, offices, auditorium and accommodation for staff. This is an undertaking that has not been taken by any other distillery. 

Portavadie will also be an eco-friendly distillery. All bi-products of the distillery will be re-used as fuel or be turned into other products. As well as this, Portavadie will be creating homes for a large number of bats that have settled in the area.

< Part 5                                                      Part 7 >

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