Whisky Focus - Douglas Laing Set To Build Distillery In Glasgow

Douglas Laing Set To Build Distillery In Glasgow

28th July 2017
Douglas Laing to build new yet to be named distillery on the banks of the river Clyde in Glasgow.

Artists impression of Douglas Laings Distillery in Glasgow.

I have always wondered why Glasgow based independent bottler Douglas Laing has not got their own distillery as I reckon with their generations of knowledge of maturing, blending and creating Scotch whiskies that whisky enthusiasts enjoy they could do something special with a constant supply of one single malt whisky. Most likely the right right distillery for their vision of a single malt has never come available, not to be deterred though, the Glasgow based independent bottler has just announced their plans to build their very own £10.7 million malt whisky distillery from scratch and where else but right in the centre of their home town of Glasgow. They have just unveiled plans to build a new yet to be named urban whisky distillery and bottling complex on the banks of the river Clyde.

The new distillery will be fitted with traditional pot stills and wooden washbacks and although technically in the Lowland region it will produce what Chris Leggat, finance director for Douglas Laing & Co describes as a "gritty, urban style of malt", its style will be more in line with the Speyside and Highlands style.

The development at Pacific Quay, one of Glasgow’s most high profile waterfront sites, will also see the launch of their new Govan-based Malt Whisky, celebrating the connection between the firm and the site of its new distillery which will also house a corporate head office, a visitor centre, a whisky laboratory and archive, bar and bistro.

Douglas Laing Distilery locatgion in Glasgow.

Beyond private family money, the Scottish Government is part-grant funding the innovative development by Douglas Laing, which will create up to 38 new jobs and will see the existing Douglas Laing workforce almost treble from 22 to 60.

The company is to receive £855,000 through the Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) grant scheme, a £70 million funding programme for the food and drink business across Scotland which was launched in 2015. The grant will assist with the capital costs of distillery equipment and plant. The FPMC scheme is aimed at supporting such costs of businesses involved in the processing of primary agricultural produce to develop new and existing facilities.

The Govan-based distillery announcement comes at a time of consistent progress for Douglas Laing & Co which has doubled in size in the last 4 years and recorded double digit growth in the last three years. Profits are up 17 per cent last year alone, as sales soared 29 per cent globally.

Announcing the funding, Scottish Government Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: "I would like to congratulate Douglas Laing & Co Ltd on securing this funding, which will pave the way to bring quality whisky production to the heart of Glasgow. This is just one example of how the Scottish Government in supporting our world-class producers to flourish, ensuring that our food and drink continues to be the cornerstone of our economy, environment and culture."

Third generation family member, Cara Laing, the Director of Whisky in the firm commented:

"Until now we have depended on third party companies for our production requirements. These working associations have been and still are invaluable, but now we feel it’s time to be more in control of our own destiny and to build on our core and current business.

"With Generation 3 firmly entrenched, we undertook a strategic review and identified an opportunity to become a distiller in our own right with a dedicated bottling and warehouse capacity. We believe this will see the core business develop at a rate of 15 per cent year-on-year, helping to grow our existing brands while allowing us to introduce new marques, and seek out new international markets.

"Instead of being perceived as an independent bottler, we will become a distiller, owning the production process from start to finish - from barley to the bottle - with an initial capability of producing considerably more than 100,000 litres of alcohol per annum."

Water will be piped to the complex from Loch Katrine which is the source of Glasgow’s water supply and 300 tonnes of barley will be brought in from Scottish farms to create the whisky.

The firm was founded by Cara’s grandfather, the eponymous Fred Douglas Laing and the company is now run by her father Fred, the Managing Director who said:

"With this innovative and ambitious plan to absorb our head office, distillery and bottling facility on one footprint, we continue to put in place an exciting future for Douglas Laing & Co and our team. We are indebted to all our suppliers and partners who have helped to bring us to this stage, and look forward to continuing those invaluable and trusted relationships in the future."

The all-encompassing site of Douglas Laing's Glasgow distillery will feature:

  • Urban craft distillery, visitor centre and bar / bistro
  • Bespoke bottling facility
  • Warehousing
  • Head office

The Pacific Quay site is owned by Scottish Enterprise which has appointed Drum Property Group as preferred developers. Planning discussions with Glasgow City Council are advanced.

Cara said: "We are enormously grateful for the support we have received from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the city council planners in Glasgow.

"The FPMC package was very important to the project and without it we would not have been able to undertake a project of this scale, so we deeply appreciate the assistance we have received which allows us to drive the development forward and recreate not just a piece of whisky history in Glasgow but a healthy number of new jobs.

"At the same time we shall be providing a top quality, environmentally friendly facility delivering high efficiencies which will result in reduced packaging, less wastage, reduced energy consumption and lower costs allied to CO2 reductions."

The company - whose brands include Xtra Old Particular (XOP), Old Particular, Provenance, The Epicurean, Timorous Beastie, Scallywag, Rock Oyster, Big Peat and The King of Scots hope the distillery will be operational by the end of 2018.

It is fantastic to see a Scottish owned whisky business, investing in the Scotch whisky industry, creating jobs in Scotland and I have no doubt given Fred Laing and co's knowledge of whisky producing what will be a very palatable single malt whisky. I am looking forward to giving them a visit next year when they are up and running.

While you are waiting for the new Douglas Laing Glasgow distillery to be built you will find DL's range of whiskies  including Xtra Old Particular, Old Particular, Provenance, The Epicurean, Timorous Beastie, Scallywag, Rock Oyster and the deliciously smoky Big Peat available
from specialist online whisky shops such as Master of Malt

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