Ambitious £10million plans to build the first distillery on the Hebridean island of South Uist in 174 years – just a stone’s throw from the setting of Whisky Galore – have been unveiled.
Community company Stòras Uibhist, which runs the estate on South Uist, Eriskay and Benbecula, revealed its proposal yesterday, claiming it would create up to 30 “quality jobs” for the islands.
The new distillery will be located in the port of Lochboisdale, on the southern tip of South Uist, close to the site where the SS Politician and its famous cargo of whisky sank in 1941 – becoming the inspiration behind the book Whisky Galore by Compton Mackenzie, and leading to two films and plays.
Stòras Uibhist chairman Angus MacMillan said the history surrounding the story will play an important part in the distillery’s offering.
There are also plans for a visitor centre including an exhibition area, reception, distillery tours and tasting, and a shop.
The buildings and processes will be designed so waste heat is transferred to distillery buildings and the local community.
Local grown barley will be used in making the whisky, providing additional income to local crofters. Local peat will also be used to produce distinctive smokey whiskies.
Mr MacMillan said: “This distillery will be a significant investment in the future of our communities.
“Distilleries last for centuries and represent a significant long term investment, creating quality jobs and incomes for generations to come.
“The Scottish islands have a long tradition of producing some of the finest whiskies in the world, so we look forward to building on that legacy.”
He added: “The inclusion of a distillery visitor centre is hugely important to the economy of the area and adds to other tourist attractions including fishing, shooting and the rediscovered Old Tom Morris golf course at Askernish.
“There would also be the opportunity to work with the Harris distillery on a Western Isles Whisky Trail, encompassing all the legends and traditions of the SS Politician.
“With world class hunting, fishing and golf already on the island, this is the perfect addition to our current offering.”
Gareth Roberts, director of Organic Architects, the distillery designers, added: “The building will appear to grow out of the rock of the island, with prominent copper pot stills visible through large windows. The design will be sympathetic to the local buildings, yet will create a new landmark for the area.”
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil welcomed the plans: “This will be a great boost to the local economy and I wish Storas Uibhist every success as they proceed with this venture.”