Residents of the Hebridean islands of South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula will get a taste of “whisky galore” if plans to create to a new distillery in Lochboisdale come to fruition.
Stòras Uibhist, the community company that runs the islands’ estate, has drawn up plans to bring a whisky distillery to the islands for the first time since 1844.
The distillery will cost in the region of £10 million and be owned and run by the local community.
The new distillery will be located in Lochboisdale, near the south of the island, close to the site where the SS Politician sank and the history and legends surrounding the story will play an important part in the distillery’s offering.
It is expected to produce 300,000 litres of whisky each year, with the potential to increase to 1,000,000 litres, as the brand grows and develops.
There are also plans for a visitor centre including an exhibition area, reception, distillery tours and tasting, and a shop.
The buildings and processes will be designed to the highest environmental standards, with waste heat being transferred to distillery buildings and the local community.
Local grown barley will be used to make the whisky, which will provide additional income to local crofters.
A malting floor will be part of the design of the distillery, to avoid having to export the barley for malting and bringing it back to the island. Local peat will also be used to produce distinctive smokey whiskies.
Angus MacMillan, chairman of Stòras Uibhist, said: “This distillery will be a significant investment in the future of our communities.
“Distilleries last for centuries and represent a significant long term investment, creating quality jobs and incomes for generations to come.
“The Scottish islands have a long tradition of producing some of the finest whiskies in the world, so we look forward to building on that legacy.
“The world whisky market is evolving as educated buyers are moving away from blends toward single malts, so there is lots of scope for another high quality malt whisky from the Scottish islands.
“The inclusion of a distillery visitor centre is hugely important to the economy of the area and adds to other tourist attractions including fishing, shooting and the rediscovered Old Tom Morris golf course at Askernish.
“Last year, the new distillery on the Isle of Harris attracted around 80,000 visitors, which shows the potential that could be tapped by our islands.
“There would also be the opportunity to work with the Harris distillery on a Western Isles Whisky Trail, encompassing all the legends and traditions of the SS Politician, with great quality products and the famous hospitality of the Western Isles.”
The distillery will provide a number of full time jobs, across all of the functions including warehousing, administration and customer service.
It will also need a creative and highly experience distillery manager, who will manage and supervise the whole process, from field to bottle.
Angus added: This is part of the Stòras Uibhist strategy to create projects for the area that will increase quality employment and boost economic growth, including through tourism.
“With world class hunting, fishing and golf already on the island, this is the perfect addition to our current offering.”
Gareth Roberts, Director, Organic Architects, the distillery designers said: “The distillery will be a beautiful building which will greet visitors on the approach to the harbour.
“The building will appear to grow out of the rock of the island, with prominent copper pot stills visible through large windows.
“The design will be sympathetic to the local buildings, yet will create a new landmark for the area.”
Sam Gomersall Commercial Director Pale Blue Dot Energy, said: “Pale Blue Dot Energy are pleased to be leading the energy system design for the distillery using our GreenStills technology and supporting other business aspects of the project.
“The distillery at Lochboisdale will retain all the traditional aspects of the distilling process, whilst being designed to be highly energy efficient and enable the integration of renewable energy.
“Given the location of the distillery and the vision of the Stòras Uibhist community, we are pleased to be involved in this hugely exciting project.”