New Islay distillery near Port Ellen will be ‘integral part of the community’, say Whisky Exchange entrepreneurs Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh

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By Ian McConnell

THE dream of brothers Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh to build a new Scotch whisky distillery on Islay has come closer to being realised with the granting of planning approval for the project from Argyll & Bute Council.

The co-founders of Elixir Distillers, whose project is “born from a love of Islay and its whiskies”, plan to build the distillery just east of Port Ellen, and hope to break ground on the project this year. The distillery is expected to be completed in 2023.

The project also includes plans to build 16 houses.

A spokeswoman for Elixir Distillers said between £20 million and £30m would be invested in the distillery building project overall, including the housing element. The distillery is expected to employ more than 15 people. An apprenticeship scheme will be put in place to “train the next generation of distillers”.

The plans include a visitor centre, and an educational facility for distillery-related activities.

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Sukhinder Singh said: “The news that our planning application has been accepted is fantastic. We’ve worked closely with the Argyll & Bute planning committee to create plans for a distillery that fits into the landscape and supports the community. We want to create whiskies that inspire both the people of Islay and Islay whisky fans worldwide, enhancing the already-glowing reputation of Islay whiskies, while also becoming an integral part of the community.”

Elixir Distillers said: “The design of the distillery features an exterior that keeps with the traditional look of the other south coast distilleries on Islay, alongside some modern touches that reflect the individual landscape of the site.”

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The Elixir Distillers team will now finalise details of the plans. The name of the distillery will be announced at a future date. Oliver Chilton, head blender at Elixir Distillers, highlighted ambitions to “make truly great spirit to enhance the incredible reputation that Islay single malt already has”.

Elixir Distillers is the independent bottling arm of trade supplier Speciality Drinks. It was originally set up to give Sukhinder and Rajbir Singh the opportunity to bottle and sell some of the casks they had available through their online retailing platform, The Whisky Exchange. Now headed by Mr Chilton, Elixir Distillers continues to source and bottle casks, mostly of Scotch and with a focus on Islay.

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The spokeswoman said the distillery would be built “with the aim of being net zero” on emissions, from opening. She flagged plans to launch a charitable fund, with members of the Islay community asked to become trustees to ensure representation in deciding how this money was spent.

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