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Ardgowan secures £8.4m for new distillery

Scottish producer Ardgowan has received an £8.4 million (US$11.4m) investment to begin construction on its new distillery.

Ardgowan distillery
Funding from Austrian investor Roland Grain will support Ardgowan’s distillery build

The whisky maker gained planning permission to build a distillery and visitor centre on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip back in 2017, but the project was delayed due to Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Austrian investor Roland Grain has provided a £7.2m (US $10.1m) equity injection, acquiring a majority stake in the company; the rest of the investment comes from new and existing shareholders.

The producer is also in talks with a loan provider for further funding.

Grain has a history of investment in the spirits industry, having backed the Cotswolds Distillery, Australian firm Manly Spirits, East London Liquor Company and Potstill Spirits Trading. He also holds a 20% stake in UK-based spirits producer Distil.

Grain commented: “My wish is for this project to create a lasting connection to the community and produce the highest possible quality whisky and over time achieve the lowest possible CO2 footprint.

“The company founders Martin McAdam, Alan Baker and I have a shared vision of what we can achieve. Already they have built a strong team around them – not least their chairman Willie Phillips and their whisky maker Max McFarlane – and together we will craft the finest quality single malt whisky, based on the extraordinary location of the Ardgowan Estate, and the unusual microclimate of the Inverkip area.

“My hope is that the distillery will become a landmark building and a significant tourist attraction in the years ahead, and I very much look forward to seeing work commence this year.”

Production goals

With the new backing, Ardgowan will resume construction plans that started in 2016, when it first submitted an application for the project to the local council.

Construction will follow designs laid out in 2018. The initial phase will see the site fitted with two copper stills and six washbacks, for an output of 1m litres per year.

A second building phase, already approved, will see the addition of two more stills and more washbacks to double the capacity.

Within five years of completion, the company estimates that the new distillery and visitor centre will create up to 30 new jobs in the area.

Ardgowan aims to produce its first spirit at the distillery in 2023.

Company CEO Martin McAdam called Grain’s involvement “terrific news for the project”.

“We have put a lot of the uncertainty of Brexit behind us and we hope that Covid will also soon be a distant memory,” he said.

“Over the past few years, we have used the time well to build up our team and craft some fantastic blended malt whiskies, sourcing some of the finest casks from across Scotland.”

Earlier this year, Ardgowan launched the second bottling in its Clydebuilt series.

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