Plan for £10m operation
Island distillery plan evokes spirit of Whisky Galore!
The new distillery will revive the story of Whisky Galore! which was remade in 2016
Hebridean islanders are hoping to evoke the spirit of the Whisky Galore! movie by creating a new distillery.
Stòras Uibhist, the community company that runs the South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula estate, has drawn up plans to bring a whisky distillery to the islands for the first time since 1844.
The community-owned distillery will cost in the region of £10 million and will be located in Lochboisdale, close to the site where the SS Politician sank.
The history and legends surrounding Compton Mackenzie’s story will play an important part in the distillery’s offering.
It is expected to produce 300,000 litres of whisky each year, with the potential to increase to 1m litres, as the brand grows and develops. There are also plans for a visitor centre including an exhibition area, reception, distillery tours and tasting, and a shop.
The buildings and processes will be designed to the highest environmental standards, with waste heat being transferred to distillery buildings and the local community.
Local grown barley will be used to make the whisky, which will provide additional income to local crofters. A malting floor will be part of the design of the distillery, to avoid having to export the barley for malting and bringing it back to the island. Local peat will also be used to produce distinctive smokey whiskies.
Lochboisdale: close to site of ship’s sinking
Angus MacMillan, chairman of Stòras Uibhist, said: “This distillery will be a significant investment in the future of our communities. Distilleries last for centuries and represent a significant long term investment, creating quality jobs and incomes for generations to come.
“The Scottish islands have a long tradition of producing some of the finest whiskies in the world, so we look forward to building on that legacy.
“The world whisky market is evolving as educated buyers are moving away from blends toward single malts, so there is lots of scope for another high quality malt whisky from the Scottish islands.”
The inclusion of a distillery visitor centre is hugely important to the economy of the area and adds to other tourist attractions including fishing, shooting and the rediscovered Old Tom Morris golf course at Askernish.
Last year, the new distillery on the Isle of Harris attracted around 80,000 visitors, indicating the potential that could be tapped by the islands.
Mr MacMillan added: “There would also be the opportunity to work with the Harris distillery on a Western Isles Whisky Trail, encompassing all the legends and traditions of the SS Politician, with great quality products and the famous hospitality of the Western Isles.”
The distillery will provide a number of full time jobs, across all of the functions including warehousing, administration and customer service. It will also need a creative and highly experience distillery manager, who will manage and supervise the whole process, from field to bottle.
Gareth Roberts, director, Organic Architects, the distillery designers, said: “The distillery will be a beautiful building which will greet visitors on the approach to the harbour.
“The building will appear to grow out of the rock of the island, with prominent copper pot stills visible through large windows. The design will be sympathetic to the local buildings, yet will create a new landmark for the area.”
Pale Blue Dot Energy, is supporting the energy system design for the distillery using its GreenStills technology and other business aspects of the project.
Sam Gomersall, its commercial director, said: “The distillery at Lochboisdale will retain all the traditional aspects of the distilling process, whilst being designed to be highly energy efficient and enable the integration of renewable energy.”