That figure is expected to rise by at least 10 in 2018, with several major projects set for completion.
The spate of openings reflects the growing confidence in the Scotch whisky sector, which accounts for a quarter of the UK’s total food and drink exports with 99 million cases being shipped overseas annually - or 38 bottles every second.
Industry figures say the Scotch industry is currently enjoying levels of investment last seen in the late 19th century.
“It’s great to see such unprecedented investment in the Scotch whisky industry, with new distilleries opening and older ones being given a new lease of life,” a spokeswoman for the Scotch Whisky Association told The Scotsman.
“Investment in the Scotch whisky industry, with new distilleries opening and older ones being given a new lease of life. It’s also encouraging that this investment is happening across Scotland from the Borders to the islands.
“With more distilleries set to launch this year, it shows that there is optimism and confidence in the future of the industry. This can be seen in the return to growth of exports – the value of shipments was up 3.4% to £1.8 billion in the first half of last year to almost 200 markets across the globe.”
2018 is expected to be the year that malt distilling returns to Edinburgh for the first time since in almost a century. The Holyrood Park distillery is due to open later this year, housed in a former engine shed in the St Leonard’s district of the capital.
In June last year the firm launched a £5.5 million funding drive to help fund the balance of its ambition to create a distillery and visitor attraction, spanning 11,969 sq ft, in the historic building, which lies a short distance from Holyrood Park and the city centre.
A joint development by David Robertson, former master distiller for The Macallan, and Rob and Kelly Carpenter, founders of the Canadian branch of The Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the new distillery will be the city’s first since the nearby Glen Sciennes was closed in the 1925.
Further east along the Forth, distilling is also set to return to the Falkirk district. The long-awaited Falkirk Distillery is expected to open in the summer at a custom-built site near Polmont, after first winning planning permission in 2009.
Brother and sister directors Alan and Fiona Stewart hope the new distillery will draw around 75,000 visitors per year, adding to the district’s other landmark attractions such as the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies.
But it’s not just the Lowlands that are enjoying a spate of openings. Islay, an island beloved by whisky fans, should see its ninth distillery open later this year.
Ardnahoe, on the north-east coast, will feature glass walls to allow visitors to enjoy the site’s incredible views of the Jura coast from within its stillhouse.
The distillery will feature long lyne arms – claimed to be the longest in the world - which run from the head of the still to the condenser.