In a significant development for Scotch whisky enthusiasts and the Campbeltown region, Argyll & Bute Council has granted approval for the construction of the Dal Riata Distillery on the picturesque banks of Campbeltown Loch. This ambitious project, spearheaded by Dal Riata Distillery Ltd, entails a substantial investment of £4.5 million and is poised to generate employment opportunities for approximately 20 local residents.
Notably, the Dal Riata Distillery project goes beyond just distillation; it envisions a comprehensive visitor experience that encompasses a museum, a visitor center, and a retail outlet. As part of its commitment to nurturing talent in the Scotch whisky industry, the distillery has pledged to offer trainee positions, providing aspiring individuals with a foothold in this thriving sector.
The choice of the name "Dal Riata" carries historical significance, harking back to the sixth and seventh centuries when it denoted a vast territory encompassing regions like Argyll, Kintyre, Islay, Jura, Mull, Ardnamurchan, Cowal, and even a portion of northeast Ireland. At the heart of this ancient kingdom was Dunadd Fort, a symbol of its power and heritage. The distillery plans to cultivate barley for its single malt Scotch whisky at Dunadd, located near Lochgilphead, thereby connecting its production to this storied history.
The driving force behind the Dal Riata Distillery project consists of two passionate whisky aficionados: Iain Croucher, the founder and owner of the esteemed independent whisky bottler North Star Spirits, and Ronnie Grant, an enterprising entrepreneur. Their shared vision aims to preserve the legacy of Scotch whisky for future generations while creating a dynamic and immersive whisky destination.
Iain Croucher, Director of Dal Riata Distillery, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, "To be working within Scotch whisky is beyond a blessing. We must preserve this vital global asset for future generations to enjoy and thrive." Ronnie Grant, also a Director of the distillery, emphasized the importance of gaining planning permission, marking a significant step toward realizing their dream of contributing a new distillery to Campbeltown.
In addition to the distillery itself, the project includes plans for a museum dedicated to celebrating the town's enduring association with whisky distillation. A vacant shop on Longrow, situated next to the distillery site, will be transformed into a visitor center, complete with conference and tasting rooms.
The long-term aspirations of the Dal Riata Distillery extend to building a warehouse at Machrihanish Airport, designated for cask storage. This facility is envisioned to encompass bottling and storage facilities for private clients, further solidifying the distillery's commitment to offering a holistic whisky experience.
Dál Riata, taking inspiration from the ancient kingdom that once thrived on the western coast of Scotland and north east Ireland, plans to produce 850,000 liters of spirit annually. It will source locally grown barley from Dunadd Hillfort, mirroring the traditions and heritage of the region. The distillery's blueprints encompass not only production facilities but also a retail store, a visitor center, and a still house with a balcony overlooking the breathtaking loch and bay.
Dal Riata Distillery is poised to breathe new life into Campbeltown's whisky legacy, reaffirming its standing in the narrative of Scotch whisky. As Iain Croucher, Director of Dal Riata Distillery, aptly puts it, "The addition of this distillery to the Campbeltown region will reinforce the town’s place in the story of Scotch, and Dál Riata will be a new chapter to an already incredible history." With a nod to its past and an eye on the future, Campbeltown is set to shine once again in the world of whisky.