CRAFT gins dominated the headlines for much of 2016 – whether it was new brands being launched or new distilleries being set up.
And while there’s no denying the small-batch gin sector is experiencing something of a boom, the reality is that many of these new distilleries will ultimately make whisky. For many producers, gin provides a more immediate revenue stream while the whisky matures for the required minimum of three years.
There’s certainly been no shortage of new production facilities – or plans for them – springing up across the country.
One of the latest proposed distilleries to be announced is for a site in Jedburgh, in the Scottish Borders.
Owned by Mossburn Distillers and known as Mossburn House, the site will feature two distilleries.
The first, Jedhart Distillery and visitor centre, is expected to be built by 2018, with the development of Mossburn Distillery and visitor centre due for completion by 2021.
Planning permission has been granted for the Jedburgh distilleries by Scottish Borders Council, but it is still subject to approval by Scottish ministers due to an objection by the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), which is said to have concerns over flooding risks.
The Borders has been something of a distillery hot-spot in the past year.
The Clydeside Distillery will begin production in autumn this year.
Earlier in 2016 Scottish Borders Council also granted planning permission for a new distillery in Hawick. The Three Stills Company, set up by former William Grant & Sons employees, secured £10 million in funding from a group of private investors for the redevelopment of a disused industrial site on Hawick’s Commercial Road to create a distillery, visitor centre and café.
Elsewhere, construction of a new Glasgow whisky distillery has begun.
The Clydeside Distillery is the brainchild of Tim Morrison, owner of whisky bottler AD Rattray and formerly of Morrison Bowmore Distillers.
The project will cost a claimed £10.5m and will see the pump house building on the banks of the River Clyde – between the Riverside Museum and the SECC precinct – converted into a distillery and visitor centre; whisky production is scheduled to begin in autumn this year.
On the isles, construction projects include a second distillery for Isle of Arran Distillers and two new distilleries on whisky heartland Islay.
The new Arran facility got the green light from North Ayrshire Council in summer 2016 and will be built on the south coast of the island, at Lagg; it’s the site of a previous distillery, which closed in 1837. Designed to blend in with the landscape, the new distillery will allow the Lochranza-based firm to increase production to 1.2 million litres and will include a visitor centre.
On Islay, meanwhile, new distilleries are underway at Gartbreck, near Bowmore, and at Ardnahoe.
Production should commence at both distilleries during 2017.
Two new distilleries also cropped up in Fife during 2016.
Work is underway on a multi-million-pound distillery next to the ruins of a 12th century abbey in Newburgh.
The brainchild of husband and wife team Drew and Helen McKenzie-Smith, Lindores Abbey Distillery is being built in the original abbey steading, and there are also plans to build a visitor centre, which is set to open this spring; the first whisky from the site is expected to be bottled in 2022 or 2023.
The second new Fife distillery was opened in May by whisky veteran Ian Palmer, who’s been in the business of whisky production for more than 30 years.
InchDairnie Distillery is expected to release single malt at between ten and 12 years old.
In Speyside, the firm behind single malt whisky The Macallan is due to open its new £100m distillery and visitor centre this spring. Macallan owner Edrington Group said the new facility will allow the firm to drastically increase production capacity.
Also in Speyside, Moray Council gave an expansion plan at the Glenfiddich Distillery the green light, allowing it to meet increased demand.
The coming months and years will also see several distilleries bottling their whisky for the first time.
Strathearn Distillery, in Perthshire, bottled its first whisky late last year, while St Andrews-based distiller Eden Mill will release its first bottles of whisky in January 2018.
Kingsbarns Distillery, in Fife, began distilling its spirit in 2015 and is due to bottle its whisky for the first time later next year.