Ardgowan begins work on £20m whisky distillery

Scottish producer Ardgowan Distillery has broken ground on the first phase of its £20 million (US$24.6m) whisky distillery after almost seven years of planning.

Ardgowan first gained planning permission to build a single malt whisky and gin distillery and visitor centre on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip in March 2017.

The company then revealed a revised design in 2018, which received planning approval the following year. The project was delayed due to Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ardgowan CEO Martin McAdam said: “It’s been almost seven years in the planning, spanning Brexit, a global pandemic, and five prime ministers. But now, finally, we have started construction.”

The zero-carbon distillery and visitor experience will be able to produce up to one million litres of whisky annually, with production to begin from 2024.

The first phase of construction is expected to last 12 months and will see the completion of the distillery’s main production elements, including core groundworks, steelwork, and distilling equipment.

To date, a total funding package of £24m (US$29.5m) has been secured for the project. The distillery recently raised in excess of £3.6m (US$4.4m) through a convertible loan note to shareholders.

The design of the distillery is inspired by a modern Nordic long hall, incorporating material of low environmental impact such as composite cladding, timber and steel.

Ardgowan has teamed up with Scotland’s Heriot-Watt University and engineering firm Briggs of Burton to develop technology to capture all of the carbon dioxide in its fermentation process and turn it into green biomethane.

It is thought to be the first time the technology has been used in a Scotch whisky distillery.

The distillery worked with Muir Construction on the first phase of its build. The company has previously worked with distillers, including William Grant & Sons, Distell and Glenmorangie.

McAdam added: “Muir have been integral in constructing some of the finest Scotch whisky distilleries open today and are at the forefront of several pioneering Scottish sustainability projects. We welcome their expertise as we embark on the first major phase of our state-of-the-art distillery.”

Earlier this year, Ardgowan signed a £100m (US$112m) deal for a decades-long supply of Sherry casks and hired The Macallan’s ex-master of wood.

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Author: Nicola Carruthers