Distil, owner of premium drinks brands including RedLeg Spiced Rum, Blackwoods Gin, and newly launched TRØVE Botanical Spirit, is investing up to £5m into the new eco-friendly Ardgowan Distillery in Inverkip, Scotland, which hopes to be producing spirit in 2023, as well as welcoming tourists.
An initial tranche of £3m has been approved by shareholders of the AIM listed company, with the potential of an additional loan of up to £2m.
The investment will see Distil build a permanent home for Blackwoods Scottish Gin on the site, including stills, gin school and visitor centre, with white spirit production and NPD overseen by Edwards Distillers, led by Master Distiller, Sion Edwards.
As part of the deal, Distil will also gain access to Ardgowan’s Master Whisky Maker, Max Macfarlane (Highland Park, Glengoyne, Bunnahabhain, Tamdhu), to develop a separate Distil blended malt whisky brand yet to be revealed.
The collaboration represents an ambitious step-change for the business in respect to short and long-term growth ambitions, and will allow the company to break into the malt whisky category globally, supported by Scotch Whisky stalwart Mike Keiller, who was recently appointed to the Distil board as a Non-Executive Director.
The new Ardgowan Distillery will be situated on the 800-year-old Ardgown Estate, 35 minutes from Glasgow Airport bordering the Clyde Muirshiel Regional Park near Inverkip. The new distillery will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, which was founded in 1896 a short drive away on Baker Street, Greenock, and will form part of the continuing redevelopment of the estate into a compelling destination for global visitors.
The first phase will incorporate two handmade copper pot stills based on rediscovered designs from the original distillery, and six washbacks, with a planned output of one million litres per annum. Future output can be doubled via the addition of two further stills plus washbacks in an already-approved second phase.
The Ardgowan Distillery team has a strong background in renewable energies and, as such, the state-of-the-art distillery will aim to reduce it’s environmental impact wherever possible.
It is estimated that the distillery and visitor centre will create up to 35 new jobs in the local area in the first five years, and contribute over £2m to the local economy.
Don Goulding, Executive Chairman of Distil, said: “We are delighted to announce our loan agreement and collaboration with Ardgowan which we see as a fantastic opportunity to add significant growth to the business in both the short and long term.
“The convertible loan of up to £5m allows us the opportunity to realise a longstanding ambition to create a home for Blackwoods with our own stand-alone distillery and visitor centre.
“Access to our own facilities, as well as the ability to draw upon the Ardgowan team’s wealth of experience, will allow us to accelerate NPD across our existing portfolio of brands, as well as create our own brand of malt whisky, positioning ourselves in a premium category which has been in long term growth globally.
“The Ardgowan team’s vision for the distillery and plans for the future are exciting, and we look forward to working with them on mutually beneficial projects as this new partnership develops and we push the Distil business into a new stage of growth and development.”
Martin McAdam, CEO, Ardgowan Distillery, said: “We welcome this investment and are exicited that Distil has chosen Ardgowan as the home for Blackwoods Gin. The Distil team is knowledgeable, passionate and very much aligned with our vision for the project. We welcome their investment and look forward to working together in an ongoing partnership to help both sides achieve ambitious goals.”