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Hunter Laing expands into production with first Islay distillery in ten years

Published:  26 January, 2016

Glasgow's Hunter Laing & Company, a family-owned whisky bottler and blender, has announced plans to open a distillery on Islay.

If the plans are approved, it will be the first new distillery on the island since the Kilchoman Distillery opened in 2005.

The company intends to invest £8 million on a four-acre greenfield site at Ardnahoe, near Port Askaig on the north-east coast, and will draw water from the nearby Ardanhoe Loch.

The site is currently owned by Islay Estates.

The plans are still at the application stage and have been submitted for approval to Argyll & Bute Council.

If the greenlight is given, Hunter Laing hopes to begin construction in May and to be in production by the end of 2017.

Initial production is likely to be in the region of 200,000 litres per year, although the distillery will have an ultimate capacity of around 500,000 litres when fully operational.

The plans include a visitor centre, café, tasting room and shop, as well as distilling and warehousing facilities.

Hunter Laing was founded in 2013 by industry veteran Stewart Laing with his sons Scott and Andrew.

""The surge in demand for single malt Scotch whisky from Islay in recent years has been extraordinary," Scott Laing told The Herald newspaper.

"While the established distilleries on the island have been increasing production, there is obvious room for yet further expansion in output as discerning drinkers the world over are charmed by the rich, smoke-filled flavours that have become such an integral part of the island's style of whisky.

"The new facility is being designed to create a particular style of spirit that we know from our experience of selling whisky in 65 countries around the world will appeal to the Islay whisky lover.

"We would like to secure our own supply of spirit. We would like to always have something that is ours, that we put our name to. It is just a nice thing to do. We want to become part of a rural community a little bit, to start investing there.

"I think it is always a good starting point, if you are going to make whisky... to [produce] what you like yourself. We like peaty Islay whisky."

Lord Margadale, chairman of Islay Estates, said: "We are thrilled to be working with Hunter Laing in the development of a new distillery on Islay.

"This project will contribute considerably to the island's economy through the direct provision of jobs. It will also increase the demand for barley from Islay farmers, and add to the attraction of Islay as a destination for the increasing number of followers of Scotch whisky around the world."