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Raasay owner to open Campbeltown whisky distillery

The owner of Isle of Raasay Distillery has revealed plans to build a sustainable single malt whisky distillery in Campbeltown.

R&B Distillers
R&B Distillers has purchased Dhurrie Farm in Machrihanish for the build of a new distillery

Scotch whisky maker R&B Distillers has acquired Dhurrie Farm in Machrihanish, on the west coast of Scotland, with the aim of building a new farm-to-bottle distillery and visitor centre, as well as establish a whisky club.

The build of Machrihanish Distillery will enable the producer to add a second single malt brand to its portfolio, after Isle of Raasay whisky.

The site is expected to become the first distillery in the Campbeltown region in more than 180 years. The area was once home to more than 30 distilleries and now has only three, R&B Distillers said.

Planning is expected to be finalised this year with the purpose of breaking ground in 2023.

A recipe for the Machrihanish single malt is currently under development. The recipe will seek to bring a different style of whisky from a distinctive Scotch whisky region to complement the firm’s Isle of Raasay Single Malt, as well as increase the company’s market and production output.

The Machrihanish Distillery will have an initial production capacity of 400,000 litres of pure alcohol annually. The site will aim to avoid the use of fossil fuels in production and use biological farming practices.

Bill Dobbie, co-founder and executive chairman of R&B Distillers, said: “When the business was founded in 2015 we had a clear ambition to create Scotland’s leading artisanal distiller – building on Raasay’s nascent success, and noticing the clear global demand for supreme quality drinks with unquestionable provenance, today’s announcement confirms significant progress towards this goal.”

R&B Distillers said it will continue to work with underdeveloped communities to produce super-premium spirits with ‘true provenance’.

The Isle of Raasay Distillery bottled the first legal single malt whisky from the Hebridean island in November 2020. The whisky is available in 24 markets, including the UK, France, Germany, Japan, China and Taiwan.

R&B Distillers plans to double production capacity at its Isle of Raasay Distillery to 400,000 litres per annum over the next three to five years.

Microdistillery plans

The company has also revealed plans to build a micro grain distillery in Coldstream, based in the Scottish Borders.

R&B Distillers, South of Scotland Enterprise, and Scottish Borders Council are exploring several options for the site of this new distillery which is due to be confirmed shortly.

The company said it will build on the family history of its co-founder and master distiller, Alasdair Day, using his family’s recipe book, as well as capitalise on the ‘market curiosity’ around a Scottish Bourbon through the use of different grains for the creation of a new whisky.

Furthermore, R&B Distillers has realigned its executive team with Bill Dobbie leading Day, Norman Gillies as operations director, William Dobbie as commercial director and Stuart Blues as finance director.

R&B Distillers currently employs 25 people between Raasay, Edinburgh and London, with the number expected to grow because of the new plans. The Machrihanish project will more than create 20 new jobs.

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