Whisky blenders Hunter Laing & Company – and £12m – are behind the newly opened Ardnahoe Distillery in Islay, on the west coast of Scotland. The first distillery to be opened in the area since 2005, hopes are high for the newcomer: it plans to welcome 20,000 visitors each year, create 30 new jobs on the island and has already sold 400 pre-order casks to private enthusiast and collectors.
Situated between Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain distilleries, state-of-the-art Ardnahoe will be upholding the style of whisky that Islay has become known for – a classic peated spirit for maturation in ex-American bourbon barrels and ex-Spanish sherry casks – as well as traditional practices such as wooden washback and lamp glass stills. A first for the island though, it will also use worm tub condensers, allowing more complex, characterful whiskies to come out of the distillery. Involvement from industry veteran Jim McEwan, Master Distiller, is another draw, as are the eight distillers who have been brought onboard to minimize automation.
The distillery’s realisation has been part of the Hunter Laing family’s plans for some time: ‘Since working as a teenager at Bruichladdich Distillery over 50 years ago, I have had a huge affinity with Islay and its malt whiskies,' says Stewart Laing. ‘When we decided to build our own distillery, there was only one possible location. We have built a great team to manage the distillery and run the visitor centre and in a few years’ time we will be able to drink a great whisky in the classic Islay style, staying true to the island’s heritage with a heavily peated malt.'
Ardnahoe Distillery will also offer tours, a visitor centre, whisky bar and restaurant.