Former Morrison Bowmore chief executive Mike Keiller has been appointed as chairman of Ardgowan Distillery as it gears up to produce single malt Scotch whisky in Inverclyde.
He succeeds fellow industry veteran Willie Phillips, who headed the Macallan business from 1978 until it was bought by Highland Distillers in 1996, as Ardgowan prepares to build a carbon-negative distillery and visitor centre near Inverkip, with construction due to start later this year. Mr Keiller takes up the role today.
He joined Morrison Bowmore Distillers as chief executive in 2000.
Ardgowan said: “Over the next 14 years, he helped transform the business from a bulk whisky supplier into a profitable brand-led operation with globally acclaimed spirits including Auchentoshan, Bowmore and Glen Garioch.”
It noted Mr Keiller would continue as a non-executive director at Alternative Investment Market-listed spirits group Distil. He took up that appointment last year.
In June last year, Ardgowan confirmed its Inverclyde project would go ahead following new funding of £8.4 million led by principal investor Roland Grain and investment from Distil.
Ardgowan Distillery chief executive Martin McAdam said: “In the months ahead, we will commence the build of our…distillery with the goal of producing the very finest premium malt whisky.”
He added: “Mike’s industry experience in Scotland, the UK and internationally, and in particular his skills in building a global brand, will prove crucial as our production ramps up in the years to come. I also wish to pay tribute to our outgoing chairman Willie Phillips, who supported us through the challenging start-up phase.”
Ardgowan noted its new venture would resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery which was founded in 1896 and located in Baker Street in Greenock. After a few years of whisky production, the distillery was used to make grain spirit and industrial alcohol until it was destroyed in May 1941, during the Blitz.
Mr Keiller said: ““It is exciting to be joining the Ardgowan Distillery as they seek to realise their vision of producing the highest quality malt whisky at their ground-breaking new distillery.
“I’m relishing the opportunity to work with Martin on the company’s corporate strategy and to being part of a young, dynamic and fast-growing team of passionate whisky pioneers.”
Mr Grain, who is director of investments at Ardgowan and like Mr Keiller is a non-executive director of Distil, said: “I have already worked with Mike at Distil and he brings huge experience and capability to the company. Mike shares our vision of creating a great-carbon negative distillery, a great single malt and building long-lasting customer relationships. We are lucky to be able to access the best professionals in the industry and we will continue to do so to form an all-star team to achieve our goal of making the best and most climate-friendly whisky on this planet. I want to thank Willie for his service and I´m looking forward to continuing work with him in our whisky-tasting forum. We are now on track to be operational at the site in 2023.”