With the current boom in new Scotch whisky distilleries in full pace, we asked Alex Bruce, Managing Director of Adelphi Distillery Limited how things were progressing at Ardnamurchan Distillery.
Tell us a little about your distillery?
The Ardnamurchan Distillery was established by independent bottler, Adelphi Distillery ltd, in 2014 to secure future stock of quality Single Malt Scotch whisky. Adelphi has put flavour foremost, and taken the opportunity to embrace a full-circle approach to supply and co-product provision – the first Scottish distillery to be 100% heated by local sourced wood chip, and powered from a hydro-electric generator on the same rive that supplies its cooling water, Ardnamurchan also sources the majority of its malted barley from the farm that surrounds its bottling warehouse, and supplies the local Ardnamurchan estate with its draff and potale. Looking to the future, it has also adopted blockchain software to offer incorruptible transparency and authenticity for its bottled whiskies. The distillery is manually operated by an experienced local team, and has already markedly grown tourism to the rugged and beautiful peninsula.
How the early period has been?
There are always going to be teething problems with new technology and, as the first operators of a 100% biomass steam boiler system for Scotch whisky production, it took some time to find the sweet spot, and the right maintenance team. Other than that, all the usual issues of operating in a remote location: ferry cancellations resulting in delayed cask or malt deliveries; too much water, too little water; general maintenance and finding the right contractors. However, the principal expectations have all been met, or exceeded. The most important was to bring long-term career opportunities to the area, and we now have a fully trained local, core team, with an additional 4 operators about to start. They have ensured the best quality unpeated and peated spirits we could have ever have hoped for and, these combined with good quality maturation casks are already producing some very fine spirit (and whisky).
Is your vision for the future unchanged?
The next, and very imminent chapter, involves increasing production to the most efficient level for Ardnamurchan which is just under 500,000 lpa. This, and starting to fill the 3 new dunnage warehouses which are almost complete up the hill. Our vision has always been to produce quality spirit and release it when it is ready to drink, not necessarily when it becomes whisky at 3 years and a day. This remains the goal, although we are bottling a very limited amount of mature spirit in the meantime. This was a pleasant surprise thanks to filling some smaller casks as an accelerated maturation indicator – they are turning out quite well, and ready to enjoy within 2-3 years. As mentioned earlier, one of our key motivations is to try to include the consumer in our journey as much as possible. Initially this was through our private cask scheme but, as we look to the future, we believe that it will be increasingly important to offer as much information on the provenance of our whiskies, and the production methods, hence our early adoption of blockchain for storing all the data that will then be shared via the bottles.
What you are looking forward to?
July 2017 marked our first cask becoming whisky, but the first Ardnamurchan Single Malt isn’t due out until early 2021. By this time we should have some very tasty 7 year old. We are also looking forward to continuing to increase the visitor numbers to the peninsula. The team are passionate about what they are doing, and want to share it with as many visitors as possible. It has also been hugely rewarding to come face to face with a bottle Ardnamurchan mature spirit in shops as far away as Australia and New Zealand, and we can’t wait to see the growing portfolio spread its way across the world in the future.
Adelphi, firstname.lastname@example.org, t. +44 (0) 1383 873 426
Ardnamurchan, email@example.com, t. +44 (0) 1972 500 285
Ardnamurchan Distillery Visitor Centre, Glenbeg, Ardnamurchan, Argyll, PH36 4JG