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Ardgowan gains £5m backing

UK-based spirits producer Distil will invest up to £5 million (US$7m) in the Ardgowan Distillery in Scotland, which will include the build of a standalone Blackwoods Gin facility on the same site.

Ardgowan distillery
The £5m deal will see Ardgowan set up a gin distillery for Distil

An initial £3m (US$4.2m) loan has been approved by shareholders of Red Leg Spiced Rum owner Distil, with the potential to borrow up to £2m (US$2.7m) more.

Ardgowan gained planning permission to build a distillery and visitor centre back in 2017, but the project was delayed due to Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ardgowan will use an estimated £400,000 (US$555,422) to build a permanent home for Distil-owned Blackwoods Gin on the same site as its planned distillery on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip.

The Blackwoods facility will include stills, a gin school and a visitor centre. Production and new product development (NPD) will be managed by Edwards Distillers, led by master distiller, Sion Edwards, co-founder of Warner’s gin.

Ardgowan will manufacture select Distil brands including Blackwoods Gin and Vodka, and Trøve Botanical Spirit.

As part of the deal, Distil will gain access to Ardgowan’s master whisky maker, Max McFarlane, to develop a separate blended malt whisky brand.

The company’s move into malt whisky will be supported by Scotch stalwart Mike Keiller, who recently joined the Distil board as a non-executive director.

Martin McAdam, CEO of Ardgowan Distillery, said: “We welcome this investment and are excited that Distil has chosen Ardgowan as the home for Blackwoods Gin. The Distil team is knowledgeable, passionate and very much aligned with our vision for the project.

“We welcome their investment and look forward to working together in an ongoing partnership to help both sides achieve ambitious goals.”

‘Longstanding ambition’

Distil said the deal represents an ‘ambitious step-change’ for the firm as it sets short and long-term goals.

Don Goulding, executive chairman of Distil, added: “The convertible loan of up to £5m allows us the opportunity to realise a longstanding ambition to create a home for Blackwoods with our own standalone distillery and visitor centre.

“Access to our own facilities, as well as the ability to draw upon the Ardgowan team’s wealth of experience, will allow us to accelerate NPD across our existing portfolio of brands, as well as create our own brand of malt whisky, positioning ourselves in a premium category which has been in long-term growth globally.”

Distil’s investment forms part of a total initial funding package of £11.4m (US$15.8m), which will be used by Ardgowan to build its distillery and visitor centre.

This includes an equity investment of £7.2m (US$10m) recently made by Austrian investor Roland Grain, who owns a 20% stake in Distil, and a £1.2m (US$1.6m) equity backing from existing Ardgowan shareholders.

Within five years of completion, Ardgowan estimates that the distillery and visitor centre will create up to 35 jobs in the area and contribute more than £2m to the local economy.

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

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