Ardnahoe Distillery

A modern distillery with a visitor centre and a restaurant on the east coast of the island of Islay, Ardnahoe lies midway between the long-established Caol Ila and Bunnahabhain distilleries, 1¼ miles (2 km) north of Port Askaig. It was officially opened by Lord Robertson of Port Ellen on 12th April 2019, after two years of construction, and is owned by the independent whisky bottler Hunter Laing & Co., which is based in Glasgow. The Laing family were originally from Bowmore and the current directors received their whisky training at Bruichladdich Distillery on the island.

Built at a cost of £14 million, Ardnahoe started producing spirit in October 2018 and filled its first cask on 9th November that year. The buildings are cut into a gentle slope overlooking the sea and were designed by Glasgow-based CMA Architects. They are of steel-framed construction, with timber-cladding and slate-grey roofs which helps them blend into the landscape. Large windows facing the sea offer spectacular views across the Sound of Islay to Jura, with Mull and Colonsay beyond. The Islay tradition of painting the name of the distillery in large letters on the seaward side of the buildings is continued here.

The distillery has a pair of copper pot stills, of 13,000 and 11,000 litres capacity, which were manufactured on Speyside and feature the longest lyne arms in Scotland. There is also a copper-domed mash tun and four traditional washbacks constructed of Oregon Pine, where the fermentation process takes place to produce alcohol. The stills are connected to unusual worm-tub condensers, located outside the building and also clad in wood. The equipment was specified by Jim McEwan (b. 1948), the former Master Distiller of Bruichladdich Distillery, who came out of retirement to help establish Ardnahoe and oversee its whisky-making process. Emphasis is on a slow and gentle distillation, intended to give the whisky complex and subtle characteristics. Barley is malted on Islay and ground on-site using 100 year-old Vickers Boby mill. The distillery draws its water from the Ardnahoe Loch and can produce a maximum of 875,000 litres of spirit per annum, which will mature in a combination of first-fill American bourbon and Spanish sherry casks.

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