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Australian tycoon buys lowland distillery

BladnochAustralian entrepreneur David Prior has acquired the mothballed Bladnoch distillery in south west Scotland.

The plant will be brought back into production for the first time in six years following the collapse of the previous owner, Ireland’s Co-ordinated Development Services.

Mr Prior (pictured below), who made his fortune by selling a yoghurt business to PZ Cussons, said he was “proud to be part of the Scotch Whisky industry.”

He told Daily Business earlier this year in a meeting at the Balmoral Hotel that he was involved in acquiring a distillery but at that stage declined to reveal its identity.

Established in 1817, Bladnoch enjoyed a reputation as a top Lowland Scotch Malt Whisky distillery. The new owners plan to stay true to the distillery’s heritage in restoring it to its former glory.

Former Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Gavin Hewitt will sit on the board as a non-executive director.

As well as production facilities, warehouses and a visitor centre, the purchase includes stock produced between 2000 and 2009.

David PriorLocated near Wigtown,  “substantial investment” will be made ahead of production beginning by the end of next year. The distillery will have an annual capacity of 1.25m litres of pure alcohol.

The purchase continues the recent resurgence of distilling in southern Scotland which will see the number of Lowland working malt distilleries increase from two distilleries ten years ago to eight following the reopening of Bladnoch.

The deal was seen as typical of a high level of interest among investors in Scottish food and drink because of the global value of its brands.

Law firm DWF advised the Bladnoch team in what was the latest food and drink deal in which it has been involved. It acted for Grahams the Family Dairy on its acquisitions of Quothquan Farms and Aberdeenshire-based Mitchells Dairy.

Iain McLean, real estate partner at DWF, said: “We were pleased to support Bladnoch Distillery Limited on this deal which marks a significant moment for the distillery sector in Scotland. It brings new international investment into the region to regenerate the second oldest working Lowland distillery and creates a new brand for the global whisky market.”

Gary MacDonald, corporate partner at DWF, said: “There has been a good level of deals activity across the Scottish food and drink sector over the past couple of years, as investors look to invest in Scottish brands due to their quality and marketability. This deal is a great example of this. It introduces new blood into the whisky sector following a challenging period and provides a real boost for the sector in the Year of Food and Drink in Scotland.”

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