SPIRITS giant Diageo has selected Teaninich near Alness in Easter Ross as the site for its £50 million “super-distillery”, which will be Scotland’s biggest malt production site.
Scotland’s largest distiller – which owns brands including Bell’s, J&B and Johnnie Walker – will create 20 jobs at the plant, if it is granted planning permission by Highland Council.
The new facility, which will have 16 copper stills and could produce about 13 million litres of spirit each year, will sit next to the company’s existing Teaninich distillery, which will receive a £12m upgrade.
Diageo – which also makes Baileys liqueur, Guinness stout and Smirnoff vodka – is pumping an additional £30m into its operations on Speyside through the “substantial” expansion of its Mortlach distillery at Dufftown and the installation of a bio-gas plant at its Glendullan distillery.
Teaninich beat off competition from Glendullan and Inchgower in Speyside to be selected for the super-distillery. The company is still considering whether to use one of those other two sites for another large production site.
Diageo opened its £40m
Roseisle distillery near Elgin in 2010, which has capacity to produce about 10.2 million litres.
Plans for further “super-
distilleries” were unveiled in June as part of the firm’s £1 billion expansion plan. Alan Gray, a whisky analyst at Sutherlands, told The Scotsman: “This will be the biggest malt distillery in Scotland. It’s very significant that we now have so many of these distilleries of scale, with The Glenlivet producing 10.5 million (litres), Glenfiddich 10 million and The Macallan about 9 million.
“The big boys like Diageo are planning ahead for a time when the eurozone economy will recover, while emerging markets such as Africa continue to grow. By comparison, the average capacity in Scotland is about
6 million litres, although some are as small as 50,000 litres.”
Brian Higgs, Diageo malt distilling director, said: “All three sites we considered for the new malt distillery were excellent potential locations but, after detailed investigations, Teaninich came out just ahead in terms of the many complex logistics required when planning such a development.”
Senior site manager Kirsty Dagnan added: “These are well-paid jobs that will be coming to the area. We will also create about 1,000 jobs during the construction phase, which will be a boost for local builders and for hotels and shops.”
If Diageo gets the go-ahead to build at Alness, then construction work could start next year.
Councillor Carolyn Wilson said: “The current distillery is on the edge of an industrial area, so I can’t see anyone being worried about the location. This is a big boost for Alness as these will be sustainable jobs that will help to keep families in the area.”