Four New Whisky Distilleries on Islay

It was back in 2007 when I witnessed a very special moment on Islay. Just before the start of Bruichladdich Open day a crowd had gathered in the centre of Port Charlotte, opposite the Youth Hostel, to witness the "Peat Cutting Ceremony" . A special ceremony followed by a toast to the newly to be build Port Charlotte Distillery. Everything was ready, planning permission was there, the equipment was bought but the years passed and nothing really happened. So much for the 9th distillery on Islay.The great thing is that there is Port Charlotte Whisky but the distillery has yet to be built. Back then Mark Reynier told me that the worldwide financial crises was the reason for the delay. Also, the new owner, Remy, might have other priorities at the moment. As plans go on Islay, they sometimes don't come to fruition, which is for now the case with Port Charlotte Distillery. It's not that it won't happen in the future, just not now.

A few years ago there was another announcement of a new whisky distillery, the one at Gartbreck, on the shores of Loch Indaal. The owners from France bought the farm and grounds and put up a sign telling folk that the distillery would start production end of 2015. Which is actually now but every time I look out my cottage window across Loch Indaal I notice no changes on the horizon. Gartbreck Farmhouse is there, some outbuildings have been demolished in spring, but apart from that silence. There are some rumours but as nothing has been confirmed I'll keep them to myself so for now I'm waiting for construction to start. There still is a chance that Gartbreck will indeed become the 9th distillery on Islay but there is more to this story..... Continue reading...

A little over a year ago there were rumours of another new distillery on Islay. The name was supposed to be "Farkin Distillery" and the location was supposed to be just outside Port Ellen not far from Port Ellen Primary School. Rumours back then were that Sukhinder Singh from the Whisky Exchange was behind these plans but so far this hasn't been confirmed. However, I have been told that land has been bought, or there are plans for that, outside Port Ellen with the intention to build a whisky distillery. These rumours have been confirmed by The Ileach 43_02 of 14 November 2015. So perhaps Farkin Distillery will become the 9th distillery on Islay. But wait, there might be another candidate for that title.

In the same Ileach article to which I referred to in the previous paragraph yet another new whisky distillery popped up. The name of this new distillery is Ardnahoe Distillery. A quote from the Ileach article: "Architect, Iain Hepburn was able to confirm that he has been approached by a leading company within the whisky industry to design and construct a 200,000 litre per annum traditional distillery on Islay. The client’s brief is that this distillery must have a traditional floor maltings and kiln to enable a new local malt to be produced. A number of sites have been identified as a possibility for the location of the new distillery and are currently being risk assessed for suitability,” he said. The process of identifying the proposed location is reaching a conclusion and it is envisaged that a planning application will be presented to Argyll and Bute Council in the very near future. “We are indeed fortunate that inward investment such as this will continue to encourage employment, benefit tourism and consequently sustain the Island’s economy. Though Mr Hepburn was not able to tell us the exact location of the proposed distillery, the Ileach understands that Ardnahoe, on the Bunnahabhain road is a likely site. Sources tell us that negotiations may be taking place to purchase land there, presently owned by Islay Estates."

That makes four new Islay Distilleries on Islay when all of the above plans are turned into deeds. A wee bit of scepticism is in place because so far all we are talking about is plans, nothing more. Nothing of the above has been 100% guaranteed, not even Gartbreck Distillery, although I strongly believe that this will in fact become the 9th distillery on Islay. I'll just keep on looking out my window for now to check on any activity at the Gartbreck site. If anything happens there, or anywhere else for that matter, you'll be the first to know! If nothing happens I'll have at least enjoyed the fabulous views. to be continued....

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