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Hunter Laing submits plans for £8m Islay distillery

Scotch bottler and blender Hunter Laing and Co has submitted plans to build an £8 million distillery on Islay, which could become the first to be built on the island in a decade.

An artist’s impression of what Hunter Laing’s new distillery could look like

Plans for the multi-million pound venture were submitted to Argyll and Bute Council yesterday, outlining the firms intention to develop a new malt whisky distillery at Ardnahoe in the north-east of the island on a four-ace plot of land near Port Askaig.

The land is currently owned by Islay Estates but will be transferred to the bottler if its plans are approved. Construction could start as soon as May, with the first whiskies released in 2017.

It would also mark the bottling and blending firm’s first foray into distilling, having been founded in 2013 following the demerger of Douglas Laing & Sons. Stewart Laing’s brother runs fellow bottler and blender Douglas Laing & Co.

“The opportunity to bring fresh investment to the island and provide a new chapter in Islay’s illustrious whisky-making history is tremendously exciting all of us”, said director Scott Laing. “The distillery could drive Islay’s economy by creating several full-time jobs on the island as well as many seasonal positions.”

The bottler’s plans include distilling operations, warehousing and a visitor centre including a café, tasting room and shop.

Writing on its Facebook Page, Hunter Laing and Co. said: “Yesterday marked a milestone in the history of Hunter Laing when we put in a planning permission application for a distillery at Ardnahoe, Islay. It is still early days with much to do, but we are very excited to be beginning this journey. We’ll keep everyone updated about our progress.”

There will be a 21-day public consultation period before Argyll and Bute Council makes a decision on the application.

A second distillery is in the pipeline for Loch Indaal, just west of Bowmore, with plans submitted in 2014 by Jean Donnay, owner and designer of Glann ar Mor distillery in Brittany. Donnay was granted planning permission in 2014 to build Islay’s ninth distillery, Gartbreck, however the project has been delayed. Ms Donnay has said she hopes work will start this spring.

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