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Spirit flows again in region

Distillery toasts rebirth of Borders industry

Borders DistilleryTeam spirit: (left to right) George Tait, Tony Roberts, John Fordyce and Tim Carton

The first distillery in the Borders for almost two centuries will open to the public tomorrow.

It will mark the culmination of a five-year vision for the four founders of The Borders Distillery in Hawick who drew its first spirit on 6 March.

The last known distillery in the region closed in Kelso in 1837 and in March 2013, Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts and George Tait, founded The Three Stills Company (TTSC) aiming to capitalise on the growth of Scotch Whisky sales and the explosion in demand for gin made in Scotland.   

All four worked at international distiller William Grant & Sons, while John Fordyce identified Hawick as a potential location having also worked for the thread manufacturer Coats. He knew that the town boasted a plentiful supply of quality water.

The 1.3-hectare site overlooking the River Teviot houses two large sheds, dating from 1888, and a Tudor Cotswold building, which was constructed by Hawick Urban Electric Company in 1903.

TTSC took the decision to preserve as much of the historical features in the redevelopment as they could under the guidance of GMA Architects and contractor M & J Ballantyne.  

Up to 19 jobs will be created and the barley sourced for distilling is entirely grown in the Scottish Borders.

The distillery comprises a visitor centre, shop, entertaining and meeting space. Operating at full capacity, it can produce up to two million litres of pure alcohol.

It will be a minimum of three years in cask before the first Borders Distillery Single Malt can legally be made available for sale.  TTSC, however, already has two brands in market: Clan Fraser, a blended scotch whisky, and Lower East Side, a blended malt scotch whisky. 

Chief executive Tim Carton said: “It was five years ago that we [the founders] came together to create a business plan that would spearhead the resurrection of an industry that had been lost to this region for generations. 

“This is a seminal moment for our business. In addition to being the first Scotch Whisky distillery to exist and operate in the Scottish Borders since 1837, we are now in a position to contribute to the growth of this fine industry.  Scotch whisky is again experiencing exciting times with growth fuelled by new and more mature markets.”

According to official HMRC data, Scotch grew in both volume and value last year (by 1.6% and 8.9% respectively) to a total of £4.36bn – the equivalent of 1.23bn bottles exported. 

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