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Plans for first Campbeltown distillery in 140 years revealed

Plans have been unveiled for the first new Scotch distillery in the historically famous whisky region of Campbeltown in the west of Scotland for more than 140 years.

R&B Distillers, operator of the Isle of Raasay Distillery, plans to open The Machrihanish Distillery at Dhurrie Farm, Machrihanish, as a ‘farm-to-bottle’ single malt distillery, along with a visitor centre and whisky club.

The company aims to make Machrihanish a sustainable, net-zero distillery that uses no fossil fuels in its production, as well as using biological farming practices to create greater biodiversity on the adjacent farmland.

Plans are expected to be finalised during 2022, with the aim of breaking ground on the site in 2023. Production is planned initially at 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year, with the malt recipe designed to complement that of Isle of Raasay.

‘When the business was founded in 2015, we had a clear ambition to create Scotland’s leading artisanal distiller – building on Raasay’s nascent success, and noticing the clear global demand for supreme-quality drinks with unquestionable provenance, today’s announcement confirms significant progress towards this goal,’ said Bill Dobbie, R&B Distillers co-founder, whose family came from the Campbeltown area.

Argyll & Bute councillor Donald Kelly said the news could mark ‘the beginning of a renaissance’ of Campbeltown, which was home to more than 30 distilleries in Victorian times. Currently there are only three: Springbank, Glen Scotia and Glengyle.

R&B is also poised to double the production capacity of Isle of Raasay to about 400,000 litres of pure alcohol a year over the next three to five years, following the launch of the distillery’s single malt in late 2020.

The company also plans to open an innovative ‘micro grain distillery’ at Coldstream in the Scottish Borders, with the working title of The Duke St Distillery, Coldstream. A site is currently being sought for the project.

At the end of last week, new HMRC data showed that Scotch whisky exports grew by nearly 20% in 2021 thanks to surges in Latin America and Asia Pacific – but still fell short of their pre-pandemic high.

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