Race to open Scottish Borders distillery heats up

20th November, 2015 by Amy Hopkins

The race to open the first distillery in the Scottish Borders in more than 180 years has intensified after a third contender secured £10 million in funding.


The Three Stills Company is hoping to build the first distillery in the Scottish Borders in 180 years

The Three Stills Company (TTSC) will use the funds to renovate a disused industrial site in Hawick, with plans to start work turning it into a distillery and visitors’ centre in early 2016.

Former William Grant executives John Fordyce, Tim Carton, Tony Roberts and George Tait are leading the project.

“Hawick has a very proud legacy as the centre for textile production in Scotland and we felt very strongly that we wanted to uphold this rich industrial tradition and bring back distilling to the region after such a long absence,” said Fordyce, director and project leader for TTSC.

“The historical context was one major factor in us identifying Hawick, but so was access to natural resources and raw materials.”

He added: “We also have on our doorstep what is undoubtedly Scotland’s most fertile barley-producing land. The Scottish Borders Council and local community have been very supportive of our plan: we will be creating jobs in the local area by tapping into a skilled labour market and increasing tourism in the region through our visitor centre.”

TTSC has received funding pledges from a group of private investors led by Edinburgh-based investment company Badenoch & Co; the Ballande family in France; Switzerland headquartered Drake Enterprises; and the Duke of Buccleuch, Richard Scott.

Malcolm Offord, owner of Badenoch & Co, will become TTSC chairman.

“Scotch has shown all the signs of long term sustainable growth over the last 20 years,” said Tim Carton, CEO of the distillery. “Malt scotch is vital for blended scotch, as well as for single and blended malts. The pressure on malt supply is ongoing and TTSC is well positioned to contribute to the next growth phase.”

However, the distillery faces a challenge to become the Borders’ first distillery in 180 years from two other projects: The Borders Distilling Company and Mossburn Distillers.

Alasdair Day, founder of R&B Distillers, first revealed plans to build a new distillery in the Scottish Borders in February last year, adding that he was seeking £5m of funding from potential investors.

He later launched a campaign asking members of the public to submit their ideas for a location in which to build the distillery.

However, work on the distillery will not start until R&B Distillers’ new Raasay Distillery, which is currently under construction, is open. The firm applied to convert the historic Borodale House on the Hebridean island of Raasay into a distillery in January this year.

In March 2014, Mossburn Distillers announced plans to convert the Borders-based Jedforest Hotel into a distillery and visitors’ centre. Work will be overseen by former Scotland and British Lions rugby star Finlay Calder.

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