PLANS to build a new lowland malt whisky distillery and visitor centre in Inverclyde were given a major shot in the arm late last year with the awarding of almost £1 million from the Scottish Government.
The Ardgowan Distillery, which will be built on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip, secured £982,000 from the Scottish Government’s Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation grant scheme.
Construction of the distillery will commence this year, with production to begin in 2020.
Distillery chief executive, Martin McAdam, said: “The Scotch whisky industry supports over 40,000 jobs in Scotland, and is a vital component of Scotland’s ambitious food and drink growth strategy.
“This £12m project will move Inverclyde up the rankings for food and drink production in Scotland.
“During construction the project will support 35 jobs and contribute over £2m to the local economy.”
When the distillery begins operation it will employ six full-time staff and up to 15 people in the visitor centre and retail operations.
The distillery has received full planning consent for the project, which will see the transformation of a former sawmill on estate land.
Willie Phillips, who headed The Macallan for 18 years, has been appointed as chairman of the business.
Phillips was managing director of The Macallan from 1978 until it was bought by Highland Distillers in 1996; during this period he is said to have played an important role in establishing The Macallan as an international brand.
Former Bruichladdich and Springbank director Gordon Wright has been appointed as advisor on commercial development and sales; with distilling expert, professor Michael Eagen, heading the new plant’s process engineering design.
The distillery will revive the name of the Ardgowan Distillery. The original was founded in 1896 and based in nearby Greenock; it was destroyed during the May Blitz of 1941.