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January 20, 2016 – It’s hard to keep a secret on Islay, and word has been circulating for months about Hunter Laing & Co.’s interest in building a new distillery on the island. Now, the Laing family has confirmed those plans with submission of a proposal for their new distillery near Port Askaig at Ardnahoe. Stewart Laing, along with his sons Andrew and Scott, are seeking planning approval for the £8 million GBP ($11.3 million USD) project on land currently owned by Islay Estates.
The Laings founded Hunter Laing in 2013 after Stewart Laing and his brother Fred agreed to divide the assets of the family’s Douglas Laing & Co., with Fred and his family keeping that company’s name. The brothers, together and separately, have controlled some of the largest inventory of Islay whiskies in independent hands for bottlings from their respective companies, but the family has never owned a distillery of its own until now.
In a news release, Stewart Laing said the growing worldwide demand for Islay single malts justifies the need for a tenth distillery on the island.
“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. By building this distillery, we are fulfilling a long held dream.”
The Argyll & Bute Council must still give planning permission for the project to go forward, and will open a 21-day public consultation period. Assuming permission is granted, Islay Estates will transfer ownership of the four-acre site to the Laings and construction could begin in May. The goal is to begin distilling by the end of 2017, with two phases of construction planned. The first will see the distillery, visitors center, and a warehouse built. The second phase will include additional distilling capacity and warehousing to be built at a later date.
The last distillery to open on Islay was Kilchoman in 2006, and permission has already been granted for Jean and Martine Donnay’s Gartbreck Farm distillery project near Islay’s Glenegedale Airport. Construction on that project has yet to begin.
For more on this story, listen to this weekend’s episode of WhiskyCast.
Links: Hunter Laing & Co.