Chivas Brothers has opened the doors of its new £25 million Dalmunach Distillery, as the group confirms plans to “significantly” increase capacity of The Glenlivet are also underway.
Chivas Brothers’ new Dalmunach Distillery is part of the group’s plans to increases its malt whisky capacity by 17%
Dalmunach is based on the site of the former Imperial Distillery, which was mothballed in 1998, on the banks of the River Spey in Carron.
While Dalmunach first fired up its stills in October last year, the distillery celebrated its grand opening today, with Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in attendance.
Chivas Brothers, the whisky and gin arm of French drinks group Pernod Ricard, said the completion of the distillery represents the culmination of the firm’s investment in increasing its malt whisky distillation capacity by 17%.
Dalmunach is capable of producing up to 10m litres of whisky per year, which will be used in the Chivas Regal, Ballantine’s and Royal Salute blends.
At the distillery’s grand opening, Laurent Lacassagne, CEO of Chivas Brothers, confirmed the company has also started work on expanding The Glenlivet distillery.
Planning proposals submitted last year suggested the firm was seeking to triple capacity of the brand, which recently celebrated hitting annual case sales of 1m.
“Today is the latest culmination of our ongoing investment to satisfy the growing demand for our brands,” said Lacassagne.
“Dalmunach Distillery is an excellent example of securing the future of the industry by respecting its heritage and it’s fitting that the remnants from the old Imperial Distillery have been built into an extremely efficient distillery with an architecturally stunning design.
“With the opening today, over the last three years we have expanded our malt whisky distillation by 17% as part of an annual capital expenditure commitment of £60m per annum.
“This investment continues and we have already begun work on significantly increasing capacity at The Glenlivet.”
Dalmunach is described as the “most energy efficient” distillery in Chivas’ portfolio, with 20% efficiency improvement over “traditional” distilleries.
It houses eight copper pot stills, with a tulip shape used for the wash stills and an onion shape used for the spirit stills, replicating those from the Imperial Distillery which was situated on the site from 1897 until 2012.
Sixteen new stainless steel washbacks also feature on the site, as well as a 9/5 diameter mashtun and “unique” hexagonal spirit safe housing four safes with a waterfall feature, which thought to be a first in the Scotch whisky industry.
Other original features from Imperial have been incorporated in to the new design to “ensure a sense of heritage” remains in tact.
“The Dalmunach Distillery is one of a 115 across Scotland and it is a sign of continued investment from Chivas Brothers,” said Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
“It’s also fitting that this facility opens in the Year of Food and Drink as we celebrate and promote the magnificence of our natural larder.
“We want to work with firms to sustain and build on the success the industry enjoys – this distillery will play its part in that and will also contribute to the continued growth of Scotland’s economy as a whole.”
Dalmunach Distillery will not be open to the public but will be visible from the nearby Speyside Way walking trail.
Douglas Cruickshank, former production director for Chivas Brothers, oversaw its design and construction. He has now announced his retirement.
Scotch whisky exports have plummeted over the past two years, prompting Chivas Brothers’ rival Diago to halt its planned £1bn in the industry last year.