New Scotch Distilleries to Watch – Part 7!

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!

Raasay Distillery

One of two of R&B Distillers projects. The Raasay Distillery will be the f
irst legal distillery on the isle of Raasay, all others before were illicit stills! R&B received permission from the Highland and Islands council in February 2016 to begin the construction and restoration work of the Victorian ex-hotel, Borodale house. 

R&B broke ground soon after in June. The construction work should be completed in Spring 2017 and production should hopefully begin around April with the first bottles of single malt expected in 2020! Raasay Distillery will be produce ninety-four thousand litres a year and expect to make around one-hundred and fifty thousand bottles of Scotch a year! If 2020 seems too far away do not worry, R&B released Rasaay While We Wait – a lightly peated single malt aged in Tuscan red wine casks. A tipple intended to represent the distillery own future production. As well as this R&B offers membership for the Na Tùsairean Club – Scots Gaelic for ‘The Pioneers’. The members of the club will own whisky from the first one hundred casks and will also have access to the luxury lounge at the Borodale house.  

The small isle of Raasay will benefit greatly from the distillery. R&B is expected to employ up to 10% of the islands population of 120 and the distillery is projected to bring around 12,000 visitors in the first year. Raasay’s wildlife will also benefit! R&B have constructed a bat hotel (For the most North-westerly population of Brown Long Eared bats), planting a tree for every one that is felled and a culvert has been laid under the road to allow the burn to flow freely as well as a mammal passage for local wildlife – like otters.

Shetland Reel Saxa Vord Distillery

Saxa Vord Distillery is the work of Stuart and Wilma Nickerson. Stuart has worked in the whisky industry for thirty five years, having managed several distilleries and revived the Glenglassaugh Distillery before selling it to the Benriach Group. The distillery is also owned by Debbie and Frank Strang, owners of the Saxa Vord holiday resort in Unst and The Malt Whisky Co. based in Portknockie. The distillery is on the site of the former RAF base Saxa Vord at Unst, in the Shetland Isles. Saxa Vord Distillery is amongst the first of this new wave of distilleries. Shetland Reel, the name of Saxa Vord spirits, is the first single malt whisky from the Shetland Isle sold legally. So far there have been four different limited edition casks strength whiskies! The whisky was distilled in Portsoy but bottled in Unst. Two of the whiskies were matured in casks that held Scotch, and the other two were matured in virgin German oak. These single malts have unfortunately sold out! Currently, to fill the void, you can purchase blended malt whisky or a variety of gins!

The Borders Distillery

The Three Still Co.’s edition to the race for the Borders first distillery in over 180 years. Behind the Three Still Co. is Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts, and George Tait. All are industry veterans, having been heads for William Grant & Sons. Evidently, we are not the only ones excited for this distillery! Three Stills was able to raise £10,000,000! Leading investors are Edinburgh based Badenoch & Co. – whose owner Malcolm Offord will become Three Stills chairman – and the Duke of Buccleuch. Alongside this was private funding from France, Switzerland and South America.

In August 2016, Three Stills broke ground at a disused mill at Hawick beginning construction on the regions first legal distillery since 1837. Three Stills chose Hawick for access to ‘plentiful supply of pure water’ and because the region ‘is undoubtedly Scotland’s most fertile barley-producing land.’ The Borders distillery is expected to begin production in July 2017. The distillery will be producing both single malt whisky and a gin using local botanicals. We can expect the gin to ready for sale in 2018! In the meantime get yourself a bottle of the Clan Fraser blend and look forward to whisky flowing from the Borders again!

The Glasgow Distillery Company

The Glasgow Distillery Company takes its name from Glasgow’s original distillery that was originally founded at Dundashill in 1770 and survived until the turn of the 20th century. The individuals behind revival are Liam Hughes, Mike Hayward and Ian McDougal. They were able to raised several million pounds and received £130,000 from the Regional Selective Assistance through Scottish Enterprise. In 2013 Glasgow Distillery Co. acquired a property at Glasgow’s Hillingdon Business Park, and established the first distillery in Glasgow for a hundred and ten years. Whilst we will have to wait until 2018 for their single malt Glasgow Distillery Co. have released several gins, a vodka and have independently bottle two Speyside single malts.

Torabhaig Distillery

A subsidiary of Mossburn Distillers, Torabhaig Distillery will be the first distillery to open on the Isle of Skye for one hundred and eighty-five years! The site for the distillery is a 19th century farm steading, on Skye’s east coast. The project cost around £5,000,000 and construction began in May 2014. The completion of the distillery and the production of spirit was expected at the end of 2015 but due to the condition of the farm construction took longer than expected. Production is now expected in early 2017 and the distillery should be open to the public in summer 2017. Once completed the distillery will produced five hundred thousand litres a year. Initially, every drop will be reserved for single malts, however, there is the possibility of blending further down the line. 

Torabhaig was originally the idea of Sir Ian Noble, founder of Noble Grossart, who moved to Skye 1972. Noble – who founded independent blender and bottler Pràban na Linne (Gaelic Whiskies) in 1976 – planned to convert the 19th farm steading at Torabhaig into a distillery. He’d obtained planning permission for the project as early as 2002, though sadly passed away in 2010 before his plans could be realised. Sir Ian’s wife Lucilla Noble has has been offered a position on the board of Torabhaig Distillery. Lucilla commented:

                     “Iain long ago recognised the great potential of the Torabhaig steading as the perfect site for a distillery on the Sleat peninsula and worked hard towards that objective. I am very pleased that this ambitious redevelopment is about to be started and that his vision will become a reality.”

< Part 6                                                    Part 8 >

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