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Ardgowan appoints new chairman

Ardgowan Distillery in Inverclyde has appointed a new chairman ahead of the opening of its £20 million “cathedral of whisky” this year, which will see capacity of up to a million litres of premium whisky per year.

Paul Currie, who was a co-founder of the Isle of Arran Distillers and The Lakes Distillery, has joined Ardgowan, bringing 30 years’ experience in independent distilleries to the role -and valuable expertise on the visitor attraction installed at The Lakes Distillery.

Currie said that there had been a great change in the malt whisky industry over the last 30 years, with the opening of many independent distilleries.

“A new wave of distilleries are now opening both in Scotland and in the rest of the world and Ardgowan Distillery is set to be at the forefront of these, with a terrific location, innovative ideas and an outstanding team,” he said. “From the cutting-edge technologies helping the distillery reach its sustainability goals to the commitment to quality made through Ardgowan’s investment in its unique Infinity casks, everything to date has been planned to the highest standard.

Ardgowan originally 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, our sister publication The Spirits Business reported at the time. However construction is currently underway on the site of a former sawmill near Inverkip, 30 miles west of Glasgow, with the new state-of-the-art distillery set  to open later this year. The Ardgowan Distillery was first founded in 1896, located in Baker Street, Greenock.

Currie called it a “pivotal time to join the team”.

“I am particularly looking forward to supporting the development of the Clan Ardgowan programme which allows whisky lovers from all over the world to become part of Ardgowan Distillery’s journey. I am also enthusiastic about bringing my knowledge and experience to the team to help Ardgowan to become a leading single malt brand,” he said.

His appointment comes shortly after that of David Keir, a founding director of The GlenAllachie Distillers, as sales and marketing director. Other members of the team include ex-Macallan master of wood Stuart Macpherson and master whisky maker, Max McFarlane, who previously lead the whisky maker at Edrington.

Ardgowan Distillery chief executive Martin McAdam noted that as a start-up distillery, it was important “to be able to attract great people”.

“With Paul’s experiences from both Isle of Arran and The Lakes Distillery, he is someone who has built distillery businesses from the ground-up it is a real pleasure to bring him on board as our Chairman,” he said. We share a lot in common with Lakes Distillery and what Paul and his team have done at Lakes is similar to the visitor experience that we wish to bring to Ardgowan Distillery.”

The new distillery is implementing extensive heat recovery and heat storage as part of the whisky-making process and has has already partnered with Heriot Watt University and engineers Briggs of Burton to develop technology to capture and repurpose the CO2 in its fermentation process.

As reported by The Spirits Business, in July 2021 the distillery received £5 million investment from UK-based spirits producer Distil, which will also house a standalone Blackwoods Gin facility on the same site. It came on top of equity investment of £7.2 million (US$10m) 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. It was also awarded £982,000 from the Scottish government’s Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) grant scheme in 2017 towards  construction costs.


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