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Words and pictures by Hugh Boag
The first single malt whisky produced at the Lagg was the toast at the grand opening of the distillery last week.
Although the distillery first opened its doors in June 2019 the pandemic meant the official opening did not go ahead as planned.
The later opening meant there could be a double celebration last Wednesday as first whisky produced on site has now matured for the three years and one day, required by law to be named a single malt Scotch whisky, and guests at the opening were the first to try it.
The first middle cut of spirit was recorded on Tuesday March 19, 2019 at 2.35pm and Cask Number One was filled on Wednesday April 10 the same year. The first Lagg single malt is expected to go on public sale in August.
The southend of the island was a hotbed to whisky production, both legal and illicit, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and the Lagg single malt is heavily peated in a style reminiscent of the original Arran whiskies and quite distinctive from the Arran malt produced at the company’s other distillery in Lochranza.
The official opening ribbon cutting ceremony was carried out by broadcaster Dougie Vipond, who has a long association with Arran and its whisky history, as reported in last week’s Banner.
Upstairs in the distillery itself Isle of Arran Distillers managing director Euan Mitchell gave those attending a brief resume of the trials and tribulations of building the company’s second distillery on the island.
He praised the foresight of major shareholder Les Auchincloss for his vision for the Lagg distillery, which, he revealed, was originally just going to be the site of the small experimental distillery.
Guests also heard from the special guest the Scotch Whisky Association chief executive Mark Kent as well as Isle of Arran Distillers chairman Mike Peirce, who congratulated everyone involved.
Work first started on the distillery and visitor centre in 2017 and the building itself, which sits high on a hillside at Lagg looking over the south coast to Ailsa Craig and surrounded by an orchard of 2,000 apple trees which have been planted to produce apple brandy in the future.
Architects designed the spectacular build to echo the contours of Arran and dramatic winged roofs are covered with a sedum blanket. This contains a mix of plants that change colour with the seasons.
Euan told guests, in a toast to the new distillery: ‘Congratulations to everyone who has been involved in this amazing project from concept to the grand opening today. Here’s to many happy drams at Lagg in the years ahead. Slainte!’