Demand for whisky from a small Islay distillery has grown so much over the last two years that the owners have built a new warehouse to store its casks.
Kilchoman Distillery grows barley for whisky production on site and is one of the smallest distilleries in Scotland. Construction of its new warehouse has been completed and has the capacity to hold 10,000 casks.
The £450,000 project has been supported by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) with a £110,000 grant towards the facility which has been built on land close to the distillery at Rockside Farm.
Kilchoman, whose core brand is the Machir Bay, Islay Single Malt Scotch Whisky, was established in 2005 – the first distillery built on Islay in 124 years.
Over the last two years, sales of malt whisky at Kilchoman Distillery have grown by more than 50 percent. The company’s turnover is currently £2m with 90 percent of sales being exported to 30 countries worldwide.
Claire Simers, from HIE, said: “The malt whisky industry is enjoying a tremendous surge in popularity with mature malt markets doing extremely well, and Kilchoman Distillery is now taking advantage of the increase in these sales.
“HIE has been working with Kilchoman Distillery since its inception and we are pleased to be providing support at this crucial time in its development in order to increase the future growth of the business. Sales from the distillery are expected to grow, particularly around the world, and now that the new building is complete, additional jobs are planned to be created over the next few years.”
Islay has a worldwide reputation for producing top quality malts and the Kilchoman Distillery, is one of eight distilleries on the island.
Anthony Wills is the founder and Managing Director of the Kilchoman Distillery. He said: “There has been a growing global demand for our products over the years. Whisky is doing phenomenally well and it just shows the strength of the whisky industry around the world at the moment.
“The assistance we have received from HIE has made such a difference and will transform how the business goes forward.
“We are very excited about the new facility which will be of great benefit to the business as now we have our own dedicated warehouse to store our casks for maturation nearby. We may even need to build a further warehouse if demand at home and abroad keeps up.”
All bottling is carried out on site, and moving the cask store to the new facility will free up space and create new bottling capacity to meet future demand. This will secure the bottling locally, protecting existing jobs and creating new jobs in the future within the fragile area. Current production at the distillery is 26 casks each week and the dedicated new warehouse will facilitate the future growth of the business in both national and international markets.
Last year the Scottish Whisky Association revealed that total exports had reached £4 billion a year and said that it had become the drink of choice for middle classes in emerging economies of China, south Asia, and South America.