£3 million Moray peat kiln sees malt supplier win ‘unprecedented’ whisky deal

Crisp Malt has secured an “unprecedented” five-year deal with a new Edinburgh distillery on the back of a multi-million-pound investment in its Moray facility.

Colin Johnston, craft brewing and distilling sales manager at Crisp Malt. Picture: Simon Price
Colin Johnston, craft brewing and distilling sales manager at Crisp Malt. Picture: Simon Price

The malt supplier, which recently invested £3.3 million in a new peat kiln at its Portgordon base, has secured an exclusive agreement with Holyrood Distillery to ­produce and supply its speciality malts.

Under the five-year contract Crisp will also supply the ­distiller with its premium peated malt, which it began producing in 2005.

The business invested in a new kiln, which become fully operational earlier this year, to meet growing demand for peated malt, driven by the rise in craft distillers and the increasing popularity of ­whisky in the Far East.

Crisp Malt's Portgordon facility has doubled its capacity. Picture: Simon Price

The move has more than doubled production capacity from 17,000 tonnes to 37,000 tonnes of peated malt per year. Its Portgordon facility, built in 1979, uses peat and barley sourced from nearby farms and continues to use a traditional malting method, including smoking barley in the peat kiln while it is still wet.

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Crisp, which is set to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year, is the sole malt supplier to craft distilleries including Lagg, Lochlea, Raer, Rassay, Annadale, Lochlea, Ardnahoe, Crabbies, and Strathearn.

It plans to launch a new “super heavy peated” malt product on the market in 2020.

'Flourishing industry'

Scottish craft sales manager Colin Johnston said: “We’ve seen demand for peated malt growing especially among the flourishing craft distilling industry where smaller ­producers are experimenting and exploring new ways to create flavour in their whiskies.

“Our agreement to supply Holyrood Distillery is a perfect example of that. The team there are looking to create the maximum amount of flavour in their whiskies.

“Our new peat kiln at Portgordon and our traditional malting process produces an exceptional consistent ­flavourful malt. ”

David Robertson, founder and head of operations at Holyrood Distillery, which became the first single malt whisky distillery to operate in central Edinburgh for almost a century when it opened this summer, said: “We can’t wait to crack on, test and learn and deliver flavours seldom, if ever seen before, in single malt Scotch whisky.”

Crisp has also supported The Glasgow Distillery with its peated whisky The 1770 Peated Release No. 1, which launched in August, ­supplying the ­whisky maker with 140 tonnes of malt this year alone.