For the purposes of MM, a whisky distillery isn’t considered active until it
has released at least one whisky to the general public. So, immature spirit
doesn’t count - the malt whisky has to meet the 3 years old age requirement.
Arran was the last new distillery to go into production in the 20th century,
while Kilchoman was the first of the 3d millennium. But what is the ‘newest’
Scotch whisky distillery of them all? That would depend on your definition.
When I write this (October 2016) there are several ‘projects’ that could
very well release their first whisky next year, making one of them the
100th active malt Scotch whisky distillery (the first in almost a century).
Around the year 2000 we received an avalanche of sad reports about malt
whisky distilleries being closed left and right. Fortunately, when the worldwide
demand for whisky increased a few years later, some mothballed distilleries
were revived. What’s more, several new whisky distilleries were built.
(Or at least enthusiastic plans to build them were developed... ;-)
The Annandale distillery was closed in 1924, but production resumed in 2014.
Arbikie is a large estate near Dundee. In 2014 they decided to build their own distillery.
The bottler Adelphi called itself a distillery long before they actually built one.
Looks can be deceiving - Ballindalloch is one of Scotland’s smallest distilleries.
The Daftmill micro-distillery has chosen not to release any of its whisky just yet.
Pernod Ricard / Chivas built the Dalmunach distillery in 2015 - and it’s beautiful.
Dornoch distillery is a crowd funded project near the Dornoch Castle hotel.
The Eden Mill whisky distillery was established in 2014 - but it’s also a brewery.
Development by Falkirk Distillery Company happens where Rosebank used to be.
The Glasgow Distillery Company hardly seems like a ‘proper’ distillery right now.
GlenWyvis says they will be the world’s first community owned distillery - eventually.
The new Harris distillery on the Isle of Harris is also located on the Isle of Lewis.
The Kingsbarns distillery started producing whisky in January 2015.
Loch Ewe is kind of a ‘model’ distillery / tourist attraction. Whisky was never bottled.
The massive Roseisle distillery was founded in 2009, but there’s no malt whisky yet.
The Strathearn micro-distillery was producing malt whisky by the end of 2013.
The construction of Torabhaig on the Isle of Skye started in 2014 - and is unfinished.
So, there’s a ‘gap’ of 3 years between the moment
the stills are fired up for the first time and the time
the maturing spirit can actually be called ‘whisky’.
Distilleries like Daftmill are on the other end of the
spectrum. The distillery started in 2005, but one
decade later owner Francis Cuthbert still hadn’t
released any whisky yet. He has his reasons...
That’s three years of capital being tied up in stocks
which cannot be bottled and sold in order for it to
actually mature into whisky. In order to build some
cashflow many newborn distilleries release their
own ‘novelty’ gin or spirit after just a few months.
Those early releases don't really count in my view.
When press releases about the new Arbikie distillery emerged,
it was presented as a distillery on ‘a working farm near Dundee’.
This phrasing suggests some kind of tiny ‘craft’ micro-distillery
like Strathhearn, but this seems like a larger operation.
The original Annandale distillery was closed in 1924, but the
old buildings were refitted and the production resumed in 2014.
In the mean time, the old buildings hadn’t been idle. Until 2007,
the site was owned by the makers of Provost porridge oats.
Ironically enough, the old buildings that were once used to
produce and store liquid drinks were now used to DRY oats.
The name ‘Adelphi Distillery Ltd.’ suggests that Adelphi already
was a distillery when it was founded in 1993, but it was actually
an independent bottler while it was owned by one Jamie Walker.
The Ballindalloch distillery looks ‘retro-industrial’, but with a
production capacity of just 100,000 litres of alcohol per year it
actually is one of Scotland’s smallest malt whisky distilleries.
Technically speaking, Daftmill could have released the first legal Daftmill whisky many years ago.
However, owner Francis Cuthbert still doesn’t feel that the whisky is mature enough to be unleashed on the
unsuspecting public. I have to admit that I prefer that attitude over the release of immature NAS whisky.
I haven’t visited the Dalmunach distillery yet, but from what
I’ve seen on the first pictures it is already one of Scotland’s
prettiest distilleries. The ‘caltrop’ shape makes it unique...
The status of the Eden Mill brewery / distillery is unclear at the moment. Their website states that they plan
to release their first whisky in 2017, but it may never become available to the public in ‘industrial’ quantities.
Feel free to contact me if you happen to have more details about this project and its status.
The Falkirk Distillery Company in the Lowlands will be built on the site of of the old Rosebank distillery.
There was activity a few years ago, but around October 2016 things seemed to have quieted down.
The GlenWyvis project is community funded. Their website suggests ties to ancient distilleries like Ferintosh and
Ben Wyvis - but from what I could find the only connection is the fact that the old distilleries were located nearby.
And not nearby any actual distillery just yet - so far it seems to be little more than an undeveloped plot of land.
The Glasgow Distillery Company claims that they opened the first ‘distillery’ in Glasgow in more than a century.
Well, they did not. For one thing, the Kinclaith malt whisky has been produced within the Strathclyde grain whisky
distillery until 1975. To me, that seems as much of a distillery as the shack that apparently houses the GDC.
David Thomson received permission to restore some of the
buildings on the site in 2010. The reconstruction of (part of)
Annandale began in June 2011 and actual distillation started
on November 15, 2014. So, the first bottles of the Annandale
whisky could be in stores by December 2017.
The Arbikie estate is located near the east coast of Scotland,
on the line between Aberdeen and Dundee (i.e. the Highlands).
This started to change in 2004 when the company was bought
by Donald Houston and Keith Falconer. They hired Alex Bruce
and started working towards building an actual distillery in the
Western Highlands. In fact, Ardnamurchan at Glenbeg is now
the westernmost distillery on the mainland of Scotland.
The annual production capacity is 500,000 litres of alcohol
and the first legal whisky could be released in 2017.
This Speyside distillery was founded by the owners of nearby
Ballindalloch Castle. It was built on the site of a farm from 1820
and features 2 fairly small stills, 1 mash tun and 4 washbacks.
Ballindalloch is managed by Charles Smith, who used to run
Talisker on the Isle of Skye in the past. Actual production at
the site may have started a little earlier, but the distillery was
officially opened by HRH Prince Charles in May 2015.
The only news source about the ‘Dornoch’ project I could find was their own website - which is a charming effort.
The distillery appears to be partly crowd-funded, but it is owned by the Thompson family of Dornoch Castle hotel.
Feel free to contact me if you happen to have more details about this distillery project and its status.
Arbikie has two copper pot stills (2400 litres and 4000 litres),
but a column still as well - not unlike the Loch Lomond distillery.
Their equipment allows them to produce whisky, but it seems
their focus will be on wodka for the foreseeable future.
There’s a shadow side to Dalmunach though - it was built on
top of the remains of the old Imperial distillery. That facility was
owned by Allied - and later by Pernod Ricard and their current
whisky subsidiary Chivas Brothers.
The annual production capacity of the old Imperial distillery
was 1,600,000 litres of alcohol. The new Dalmunach distillery
can make 10,000,000 litres of alcohol each year...
With a production capacity of more than 12,000,000 litres of alcohol per year, you would imagine that Diageo’s
new Roseisle distillery near Elgin would be able to select at least a few decent casks for their first bottling.
However, as far as I can tell, they haven’t released their own whisky yet - at least not as a single malt whisky.
Unlike many ambitious distillery projects on this page, the Loch Ewe "distillery" (slash hotel) of John Clotworthy has
already been producing microscopic amounts of spirit since 2006. However, according to their own web site, by the
year 2011 only 3 casks of Loch Ewe malt whisky were maturing somewhere in Scotland. Most of the freshly distilled
spirit is sold and consumed very soon afterwards, so it almost never has the chance to evolve into proper whisky.
The picture at the right was taken before Kingsbarns was
converted into a distillery. The first grand plans were devised
in 2008, but it wasn’t until 2011 that the plans were approved.
The new Harris distillery (on the coast of the Isle of Harris)
may look fairly unassuming, but they plan to produce about
250,000 litres of alcohol per year. That’s quite a bit more than
the 20,000 litres of Abhainn Dearg on the same island.
The Torabhaig project on the Isle of Skye (also home to the Talisker distillery) has a fascinating history.
However, in October 2016 construction hadn’t finished yet, so I’ll focus on the active distilleries for now.
“But wait”, I can almost hear you think, “Isn’t Abhainn Dearg
located on the Isle of Lewis?” Yes it is - and the Isle of Lewis
is THE SAME BLOODY ISLAND as the Isle of Harris. So, I’ll
try to go with the “Isle of Lewis and Harris” from now on.
Harris distillery has two pot stills - a 7,000 litre wash still and
a 5,000 litre spirit still. Production started September 2015.
Kingsbarns received a generous grant of £670,000 from the
Scottish government in 2012. After that, the wealthy Wemyss
family felt that this was a smart moment to get into distilling.
Wemyss Malts already was a Scotch whisky bottler - and after
an investment of £3,000,000 they now own their own distillery.
Actual construction of Kingsbarns began in June 2013 and
production of whisky started in January 2015.
The Strathearn micro-distillery COULD theoretically release their first whisky in December 2016 - but given their
limited production capacity of +/- 30,000 litres it might be better to wait for a bit. Blending can be a bad thing, but
it allows smaller operations to vat some ‘extreme’ casks together to produce a more approachable whisky.
Those were the new distillery projects that I know of at the moment - at least the most ‘feasible’ ones.
I’ve heard whispers of other names through the grapevine, but I couldn’t find enough solid information.
Possible new projects include: Drimnin, Holyrood Park, Inchdairne, Lochlea Farm, Mossburn and Saxa Vord.
Please let me know via e-mail, Twitter or Facebook if you think that I haven’t got all my facts straight.