Bladnoch buyer breathes new water of life into distillery

The mothballed Bladnoch Distillery in south-west Scotland is to reopen and restart distilling after a six-year gap following its acquisition for an undisclosed price by an Australian entrepreneur.

Bladnoch staff toast the distillery's reopening. Picture: Alex Hewitt

The new company, Bladnoch Distillery Ltd, is headed by David Prior and the board will also include non-executive director Gavin Hewitt, former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, the industry’s trade body.

Prior ran the family’s food packaging business Baroda before selling it in 2007. He founded five‑am, an organic yoghurt and granola business in 2009, the company being sold to PZ Cussons for £52 million in 2014.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Prior said yesterday: “I am delighted to have been able to purchase a Scotch whisky distillery of such renown as Bladnoch. Scotch whisky is the world’s foremost spirit drink and I am proud to be part of the Scotch whisky industry.”

Established in 1817 by brothers John and Thomas McClelland, Bladnoch enjoyed a reputation as a leading Lowland Scotch malt whisky distillery under several owners, including Arthur Bell and United Distillers. The mothballed distillery was bought by Co-ordinated Development Services (CDS) in 1994, reopening for production in 2000, before stopping distilling again in 2009. CDS went into liquidation in March 2014.

Luke Charleton, of EY, liquidators to CDS, said he was “delighted” to announce the sale of Bladnoch Distillery “with all retained jobs and creditors paid in full”.

He said: “The distillery continued to trade ‘business as usual’ under my direction, while a purchaser was sought for the business and assets on a going concern basis.

“There was a tremendous level of interest from domestic and international investors in this distillery. It is particularly pleasing to have sold the distillery to a buyer with a clear growth strategy.”