Tuesday 17 January 2012

The Ardnamurchan Distillery

Adelphi Distillery Ltd has recently submitted detailed plans to Highland Council for the construction of a small, compact whisky distillery here on West Ardnamurchan, a prospect which fills The Diary with joy. For a start, it's a wonderful place to distill whisky surrounded, as it is, with several other fine distilleries, and then there's the prospect of employment in an area which badly needs these sorts of opportunities.

However, as with all major developments in such outstanding scenery, there are worries which have to be allayed. These were dealt with at a recent Community Council meeting (link here) by Donald Houston of Ardnamurchan Estate, who is a Director of Adelphi Distillery. Adelphi, established in 1826, is pumping several millions of pounds into the scheme, which is being developed at Glen More.

The above picture shows that the completed buildings will have a low visual impact. Assurances were also given that the proposed year-round Visitor Centre at the distillery would not take business away from the nearby Nadurra Visitor Centre (seen at left, website here), that, with two places to visit, visitor numbers could increase.

A planning application was submitted to Highland Council early in January, but the Community Council, which is normally consulted on all applications, felt enthusiastic about the project, not least because it will create at least three jobs initially, a number which could rise to nine. An early decision by Highland Council is essential if the scheme is to ahead.

A feature of the distillery is that it will be largely powered by local wood. A chipping facility has already been built on the Estate, and this will provide the heat for the distilling. While there will be some increase in traffic down the B8007, for example to bring in casks and malting barley, everything is being done to keep this to a minimum. The 'draff', the solid residue left after fermentation, will be fed to Estate cattle.

Adelphi, which currently selects fine casks from other distilleries for bottling, currently sells most of its produce abroad, but we are fortunate that, by special arrangement, a selection of its whiskies is available here in West Ardnamurchan, at The Ferry Stores.

An information sheet with more details can be downloaded here.
Adelphi's website is here, and Ardnamurchan Estate's here.


  1. kilchoan is the dullest place on earth mabey we can do something fun like anything not to do with kilchoan from gay fish fagg lagger my freind the chicken killer says hello

  2. If Kilchoan is such a dull place perhaps we should start a spelling class and you should put your name down for lessons ASAP.

  3. Agreed, most people support the idea of the distillery. HOWEVER, let's just double-check that we really know what is being suggested:

    1. the black-and white sketch does not match up to the coloured drawing; for example, there are two cupolas on one, and only one on the other.

    2. even allowing for distorted perspective, the range of buildings next to the silos in the b/w sketch and on the map is very much smaller than the equivalent set of buildings on the coloured drawing.

    3. the map shows a very large, long building(?), at the back of the distillery, which is not pictured either on the coloured drawing or the b/w sketch. What is that? What will it look like? What is it for?

    A couple more points:
    - Where will the whisky be stored to mature? There is no building with that function labelled on the b/w sketch.
    - Will the whisky be bottled on site, or carried away - how often? what quantity? - in barrels? If bottled on site, where and how often? Bottling plants can be noisy...

    1. Many thanks for the support. In answer to your questions:
      1. The coloured drawing includes the floor malting which wasn't initially proposed for phase 1 (the black and white sketch). However planning submission includes both pagodas.
      2. Because the 2 drawings are at different angles the maturation warehouse, which is the long building set back from the rest of the distillery, is not shown in the black and white sketch.
      3. This is the maturation warehouse which will be partially dug into the hillside to keep its roof level below line of site and to allow a 2 tier, traditional dunnage system of maturation.
      4. All whisky produced at the distillery will be matured on site - this is very important to both the quality and heritage, and also keeping traffic to a minimum. The mature whisky will then be filled into small transi tanks on site for transportation to an existing bottling facility in Fife.

  4. Kilchoman distillery on Islay might be a good comparison, in which case it isn't intrusive as it's hidden within farm buildings, including maturation. However, if maturation and bottling happen elsewhere, it will probably entail transporting the spirit by road to its destination, which could cause a problem. But think of all that draff for the cattle, yum! I think a distillery is a great idea, especially since Scotch whisky is so very popular at the moment.

  5. A warning about the draff.

    When still farming, we once received a load of draff from a brewery which, unknown to all, it had started to ferment early while still in the soaking process. The result was a whole herd of milkers, who unaccustomed to a tipple or two, wolfed it down and became stone drunk, reeling about and falling over. Their milk lost all its white ingredients and looked like lager - a condition that lasted all that lactation.

    Good luck to the scheme. Let's hope it adds the happiness of both community and cattle.

    1. Draff has no alcohol in it. The alcohol only appears when the wort(sugary liquid from the mashing process) has yeast added to it in the fermentation vessels. Do not know how the cows were drunk.

  6. I am in support of a distillery in Ardnamurchan, but surely it is ludicrous to build a visitor centre beside another visitor centre. Why not build it further down the peninsula to encourage visitors to visit the whole of Ardnamurchan, and encourage people to take the ferry to Mull. In my opinion it would make far more sense to be nearer a village so more people would benefit.

  7. Donald MacMillan8 February 2012 at 19:12

    Why would you want to build an Industrial installation in such an area of beauty? There are so many parts of the west coast that would welcome an investment like this. There is nothing beautiful about a Distillery. It may create jobs but it is an industrial facility which comes at a price. Why Ardnamurchan? Why choose a spot of such scenic beauty? Our family loves visiting this area and the visitor centre and it seems such a shame to destroy what has been unspoilt for so long. I hope the locals fight it and that the Distillery finds an area of Scotland that would welcome this investment and where it would not really alter the landscape of that area and where it might be welcomed in creating jobs.

  8. Hello Alex: What is Ardnamurchan Distillery's street address? West Ardnamurchan is a large area. How far is the distillery from Glenbeg? Have you pinpointed its location on a map link? I understand that construction is under-way. What is the projected date of the first distillation run? Who is Adelphi's current US importer/broker? Will that organization handle Ardnamurchan's produces as well?

  9. Alex: What will Ardnamurchan Distillery's street address be?