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Gartbreck gets go-ahead for Islay distillery

Planning permission has been granted for Islay’s ninth distillery at Gartbreck, which has been described as “small but very ambitious”.

Gartbreck Distillery is to become Islay’s ninth Scotch distillery

Jean Donnay, owner of Brittany distillery Glann ar Mor distillery in Brittany, France, intends to begin building the new distillery in May this year, with a view to begin production in the autumn 2015.

Situated by Lochindaal, just west of Bowmore and across the sea from Port Charlotte, Gartbreck Distillery will produce 100% peated single malt whisky from its two fire-heated copper pot stills – the only distillery on the island to use such equipment.

Donnay anticipates around 20% of whisky produced will be made using Islay barley, with the remainder shipped over from mainland Scotland.

The distillery, which will run six days a week, will produce an initial 60,000 litres of alcohol per year, and feature its own on-site floor maltings and kiln.

Gartbreck’s whisky will be primary aged in Bourbon barrels in a small on-site warehouse, although Donnay also intends to mature some liquid in Sherry casks.

“I built Glann a Mor in Brittany in 2005 but always had an idea in the corner of my mind to take advantage of that experience and build another distillery on Islay in Scotland, which has to be regarded as the motherland of whisky,” Donnay told The Spirits Business. “I’m lucky enough to have found Gartbreck Farm, which is a magical place on Islay.”

Donnay intends to build the distillery, which will also feature a visitors’ centre, around the farm’s existing buildings to “keep the spirit of the place alive because there is something special about it”.

Gartbreck Distillery will operate under the Gartbreck Distilling Company, a holding company established by Donnay in May 2013. Glann a Mor will continue to operate as part of Celtic Whisky Compagnie.

Until Gartbreck’s whisky is ready for sale, the group will sell a small number of Gartbreck whisky casks to generate cash flow, as well as operate as an independent whisky, gin and vodka bottler, working with third party suppliers.

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