New Islay distillery gets green light

The project near Farkin, between Port Ellen and Laphroaig, includes staff housing on-site, a visitor centre and a multi-purpose educational facility.

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Elixir Distillers, run by two brothers, has been given planning permission for a new distillery on Islay.

The first plans were lodged in 2018 but a revised scheme has now been approved by  Argyll and Bute Council planning committee.

The project near Farkin, between Port Ellen and Laphroaig Distillery, includes staff housing on-site, a visitor centre and a multi-purpose educational facility.

A statement from the company said co-founders of Elixir Distillers, brothers Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh, share a love of Islay and its whiskies.

Brothers Rajbir (left) and Sukhinder Singh

Their parents were the first Asians in the UK to be granted a liquor licence and opened what became an award-winning off-licence in north-west London.

In the mid-1990s, Sukhinder had one of the largest collections of whisky in the world, with more than 5,500 miniature bottles of single malt.

Sukhinder said: ‘The news that our planning application has been accepted is fantastic. We’ve worked closely with Argyll and Bute Council planning committee to create plans for a distillery that fits into the landscape and supports the community.

‘We want to create whiskies that inspire both the people of Islay and Islay whisky fans world-wide, enhancing the already glowing reputation of Islay whiskies, while also becoming an integral part of the community.’

The company plans to create an apprenticeship programme to train the next generation of distillers.

It said it hopes to work with the community and Scotch Whisky industry to create other initiatives to support the environment and people of Islay.

The next steps will be to finalise details of its plans with the objective of breaking ground later this year and the distillery name announced at a later date.

Elixir said the design of the distillery features an exterior that keeps with the traditional look of the other south coast distilleries on Islay, alongside some modern touches that reflect the landscape of the site.

The interior will include floor maltings capable of supplying more than 50 per cent of the full one million litres annual capacity of the distillery.

Oliver Chilton, head blender at Elixir Distillers, said: ‘We take great pride in being able to learn, as whisky enthusiasts, and use that knowledge as a guide to find and bottle great whisky, including our independent bottlings brands Port Askaig and Elements of Islay.

‘Having our own distillery will be a fantastic opportunity to apply the same methodology and passion for flavour in a drive to make truly great spirit to enhance the incredible reputation that Islay single malt already has.’