You may already know that Scotland is rightly famed for producing the world’s finest whiskies, but did you know that each year there are more and more whisky distilleries popping up around the country?
In 2017, seven new distilleries started production. In 2018, another four opened and this year a further five will start production, with many more in the pipeline for 2020 and beyond. Read on to learn more about these new distilleries.
Distilleries opening in 2019-20
1. Ardgowan Distillery, Inverkip, Inverclyde
Resurrecting the name of the original Ardgowan Distillery, which was established in Greenock in 1896, this new addition to the Lowlands region, with lovely views over Ardgowan Estate and the Firth of Clyde, will break ground soon and is scheduled to open in late 2020.
The land that the new Ardgowan Distillery will sit on has been inhabited for over 4,000 years and Ardgowan has strong historic and royal associations spanning the centuries. Once the distillery is running, Ardgowan will produce a peated full-flavoured smoky single malt, a lightly peated double-distilled ‘coastal’ malt, an unpeated flagship lowland-style malt with light, floral and delicate notes and a blended malt.
2. Ardnahoe Distillery, Islay
The recent opening of Ardnahoe Distillery, taking the number of whisky distilleries on the island to nine, further consolidates Islay’s title of ‘Scotland’s Whisky Island’. This eagerly anticipated distillery, is wonderfully situated between Bunnahabhainn and Caol Ila distilleries and is enviably situated overlooking the Sound of Islay, with amazing views from the glass-fronted Still Room to the Paps of Jura.
Ardnahoe will distill a classic peated style Islay malt, using the finest barley and water from the depths of Loch Ardnahoe itself. The incredible spirit, combined with stunning scenery, is sure to become a firm favourite with visitors.
3. Cabrach Distillery, Moray Speyside
Speyside’s newest distillery, Cabrach, is set to open in autumn 2019, when ‘The Cabrach’ single malt will flow once again – 150 years on from when whisky was last distilled here. Founded as a distillery and heritage centre by The Cabrach Trust, the aim here is to create captivating whiskies in the glass-fronted refurbished and historic Inverharroch Steadings, and revitalise and rejuvenate this remote and beautiful part of Moray-Speyside. The heritage centre will enlighten visitors about the early days of farm distilling, illicit whisky production, smuggling and avoiding the excise-man in bygone times.
4. Falkirk Distillery
Complementing the town’s three existing and renowned visitor attractions (Callendar House, The Falkirk Wheel and The Kelpies), Falkirk Distillery, is just a short walk from magnificent Callendar House and is due to open to visitors in the latter part of 2019. Alongside the new distillery, the new distillery building, with its distinctive pagoda, will include retail, restaurant and office space and promises to be quite an experience when opened.
The team will be creating a triple-distilled revival of Rosebank single malt from September 2019, which was last produced in the town in 1993 – a welcome addition to the beguiling collection of Lowland malts.
5. Holyrood Distillery, Edinburgh
Construction of the new Holyrood Distillery, in the heart of Edinburgh, is progressing well and the team here expects to be welcoming visitors for tours and tastings from July 2019.
It has been almost 100 years since single malt whisky was produced in Edinburgh and alongside producing ‘full-flavoured spirits for anyone with an open mind and an open mouth’, visitors will enjoy a hands-on, sensory visitor experience that will both surprise and delight.
The new distillery will be housed in a carefully re-furbished 180 year old B-listed building and promises to be quite a draw.
6. Lagg Distillery, Isle of Arran
Complementing their distillery in the north of the island at Lochranza, Isle of Arran Distillers Ltd are on track to open their second site on the island at Lagg, on Arran’s southern tip, in the spring of this year.
This part of Arran has long associations with distilling, both illicit and legal, and the new Lagg Distillery will produce a more heavily-peated style of single malt, distinct from its northern counterpart.
The new distillery will house a fantastic and welcoming visitor experience and visitors will be able to enjoy distillery tours, tastings and a choice of restaurant or café dining, all with fine views over the coast to the south and the hills to the north.
Distilleries that opened in 2018
1. Borders Distillery®, Hawick
The Borders Distillery® is the first Scotch whisky distillery to open in the Scottish Borders since 1837. The new distillery can be found in the town of Hawick and occupies a B-listed historic industrial site in the town centre. The former Hawick Urban Electric Company building has been completely restored and given a new lease of life. The distillery is producing single malt Scotch whisky and a premium gin.
2. GlenWyvis Distillery, Dingwall
GlenWyvis Distillery was completed in 2017, and whisky production began on the 25 January 2018, just in time to commemorate Robert Burns’ birth in 1759.
Expect excellent unpeated single malt whiskies that will be ready to drink in 2021. The whiskies will be created using only local barley and matured in bourbon, refill bourbon and sherry casks. The distillery also produces GoodWill gin, which is known for its initial notes of orange and lemon, with the warmth of coriander and cinnamon following.
This state-of-the-art distillery, set on a hillside overlooking Dingwall and the Cromarty Firth, is run on solar, hydro, wind and biomass renewables. Call 01349 862005 for information about distillery tours.
3. LoneWolf Distillery, Ellon
Located in rural Aberdeenshire, LoneWolf is a distillation subsidiary of BrewDog. This distillery is already producing gin and vodka from grain all the way through to glass. Having launched in early 2017, LoneWolf whisky production began in 2018 using the only triple bubble still in the world – just one of the ways that LoneWolf runs against the pack and strives to challenge the traditions of the industry.
4. The Macallan, Moray Speyside
The new Macallan distillery, an impressive, innovative and vast new site, which has been designed with the visitor experience central to its development, opened in Moray Speyside on 2 June 2018. The project took three years and six months to complete and cost £140 million and you can watch the film to witness how this remarkable and unique new distillery was constructed.
Part of the visitor experience is Eat@TheMacallan, which offers the finest Scottish produce with a twist, taking inspiration from the long-standing relationship The Macallan has enjoyed with the Roca brothers, who run twice-voted best restaurant in the world El Celler de Can Roca in Girona, Spain. To find out more about this collaboration, watch clips from Distilling Scotland with the Roca brothers on their culinary journey through Scotland.
Distilleries that opened in 2017
1. Dornoch Distillery, Sutherland
Housed in the quirky old ‘Fire House’ in the grounds of Dornoch Castle Hotel, Dornoch Distillery is located in the pretty Sutherland town of Dornoch. This micro distillery has been producing whisky since December 2016 and laid its first cask in January 2017. Based on the whisky styles of the 1960s and before, directors Phil and Simon Thompson are aiming to create an ‘elixir of yummy old style fruitiness’.
2. Isle of Raasay Distillery
Skye’s neighbouring island, Raasay, welcomed the Raasay Distillery which began distilling in September 2017. Lying beneath the island’s highest point Dùn Caan, the distillery is producing ‘handcrafted whiskies of uncommon provenance’ using the peak’s volcanic water supply at every stage of distillation. Tours are available and you can also stay in one of the distillery’s six luxury bedrooms, three of which have dramatic views to the Cuillin mountains – the ideal option for whisky lovers! Raasay Distillery is also one of four distilleries, the others being Torabhaig, Talikser and Isle of Harris, to discover along the Hebridean Whisky Trail.
3. Torabhaig Distillery, Isle of Skye
Torabhaig is Skye’s second distillery, complementing long-established Talisker Distillery at Carbost. It overlooks the Sound of Sleat and the dramatic wilderness of the Knoydart peninsula and is housed in a converted 200-year-old farmstead. Production got underway in January 2017 and the distillery also now offers visitor tours and there’s a shop and a café serving refreshments and light bites on site. Torabhaig is another of the four distilleries, the others being Raasay, Talikser and Isle of Harris, along the Hebridean Whisky Trail.
4. Ncn’ean Distillery, Morvern
Taking it’s abbreviated name from Neachneohain, the Gaelic Queen of Spirits, this distillery embodies the spirit of this legendary character – strong, independent and never afraid to walk her own path – a quiet rebel and a fierce protector of nature. Perched above the Sound of Mull in secluded Morvern, Ncn’ean Organic Whisky Distillery started producing single malt whisky in March 2017 using the best ingredients and pioneering sustainable production methods. Pre-booked distillery tours are available.
5. Lindores Abbey Distillery, Newburgh
Records indicate that whisky was first produced as far back as 1494 by Tironensian Monks at Lindores Abbey, on the northern edge of the Kingdom of Fife. Spirit started flowing from the stills again at Lindores Abbey Distillery in 2017 and they are currently producing an Aqua Vitae spirit drink with herbs and spices for sale. Housed in the old abbey farm steading, whisky here is being produced using barley from local farms, providing a real taste of the area. Tours are also now available.
6. Clydeside Distillery, Glasgow
Sitting proudly between the SEC and the striking Riverside Museum in the centre of Glasgow, the Clydeside Distillery opened in November 2017, following a £10.5 million refurbishment of the iconic Pump House on the riverside. The distillery offers dramatic views over the River Clyde and visitors can enjoy a fine tour of the distillery, relax in the café and browse the wide variety of whiskies and gifts in the specialist whisky shop. The distillery can also be booked as an exclusive-use events venue.
7. Bladnoch® Distillery, near Wigtown
Although not strictly a ‘new’ distillery, Bladnoch® Distillery has been completely renovated under new ownership and began production again in 2017 under the watchful eye of Master Distiller Ian MacMillan. Located near Wigtown in Dumfries & Galloway, the distillery was originally founded in 1817, making it both Scotland’s most southerly distillery and the oldest working distillery in the Lowlands whisky region. A world-class visitor centre is currently being built.
Forthcoming whisky distilleries and experiences
Beyond 2019, Diageo has big plans to invest £150 million over the next three years across their Discovering Distilleries sites (which will grow from 12 to 14 with the re-opening of the ‘lost distilleries’ of Port Ellen on Islay and Brora in Sutherland) and a new state-of-the-art immersive Johnnie Walker visitor experience in the centre of Edinburgh.
Douglas Laing are currently developing their Clutha Distillery in Glasgow, which they hope to open in 2020. Whilst over on the east coast, a John Crabbie & Co gin and whisky micro-distillery at Granton Harbour in Edinburgh is planned. Plans for the innovatively designed Port of Leith vertical distillery, which will sit alongside Ocean Terminal, are also taking shape.
Further south, the Borders will see continued growth in whisky production in the shape of R & B’s second distillery (complementing their site on Raasay) coming to Peebles and Mossburn Distillers Ltd, continue to develop their Reivers Distillery in Jedburgh.
Can’t visit in person? Why not order straight from the distillery to try a dram from home? Check out our page on 18 amazing Scottish food & drink businesses to order from.