Construction starts

Austrian whisky fan invests in new Scotch distillery

Roland Grain: sharing a vision

Ardgowan Distillery, being built near Inverkip, has received £7.2 million from an Austrian investor to allow work to begin.

Other support from new and existing investors takes total funds raised to £8.4m.

The bulk of the new equity comes from Roland Grain, a 47-year-old founder, owner and CEO of IT company Grain GmbH which operates in 17 countries. He has a long track record of investment in distilleries.

The Ardgowan distillery is also in discussion with a loan provider that will provide additional debt funding for the flagship project in the coming weeks. 

Mr Grain said: “My passion for whisky began as a teenager in Austria when I began to collect Scotch whisky and today I am thrilled to become the major shareholder in the Ardgowan Distillery.  

“My wish is for this project to create a lasting connection to the community and produce the highest possible quality whisky and over time achieve the lowest possible CO2 footprint.

“The company founders Martin McAdam, Alan Baker and I have a shared vision of what we can achieve.

“Already they have built a strong team around them – not least their chairman Willie Phillips and their whisky maker Max McFarlane – and together we will craft the finest quality single malt whisky based on the extraordinary location of the Ardgowan Estate and the unusual microclimate of the Inverkip area. “

Grain began investing in the spirits industry with a small stake in the Cotswolds Distillery and continued with investments in Manly Spirits (Sydney, Australia), the East London Liquor Company and Potstill Spirits Trading – Austria´s largest whisky importer. Most recently he has become a 20 percent shareholder in UK spirits business Distil.

Distillery CEO Martin McAdam said: “Roland Grain is a brilliant and passionate cornerstone investor who has global experience in investing in a whole range of spirits businesses.

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“He is a genuine whisky enthusiast who has visited distilleries all over Scotland, and he has a clear vision for the project which is very much aligned with ours; based on place, provenance and people.

“This is terrific news for the project and for Inverclyde. We have put a lot of the uncertainty of Brexit behind us and we hope that Covid will also soon be a distant memory. 

“Over the past few years, we have used the time well to build up our team and craft some fantastic, blended malt whiskies, sourcing some of the finest casks from across Scotland. We are hugely proud of our Expedition and Clydebuilt whiskies which have won industry recognition and continue to gather a growing fanbase of customers.”

The new distillery will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, which was founded in 1896 and located in Baker Street, Greenock. After a few years of whisky production, the distillery was used to make grain spirt and industrial alcohol until it was destroyed in the May Blitz of 1941.

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