Introduction

The Journey


Ardnahoe Distillery is one Scottish family’s dream unfolding as well as being the next chapter in the captivating story of the Whisky Isle of Islay.

The Laing family, having been involved in the Scottish whisky industry for generations, are highly respected in their field. As a young man in the 1960’s Stewart Laing came to work at the Bruichladdich Distillery where he began to learn the fine art of distillation. It was here, on the island, his love for Islay and its whisky was ignited.

Stewart’s two sons, Andrew and Scott, are following in their father’s footsteps – making Ardnahoe a wholly family-owned business: a rarity in today's scotch whisky industry.

Ardnahoe prides itself on being a modern distillery, set beautifully in a stunning location, that employs rigorously traditional methods and values. The spirit being produced is sweet, smoky and smooth yet peaty and spicy – unique and dynamic to its very core.

Come join us - as a dream becomes reality and the present becomes the future of Islay whisky.

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What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?

Ardnahoe Distillery takes its name simply from the location in which it is set. Ardnahoe is Scottish Gaelic for “Height of the Hollow” which perfectly describes the beautiful setting in which the distillery lies.

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The Water

The Water

We draw the water to produce Ardnahoe spirit from the eponymous Loch Ardnahoe, which lies a stone’s throw from the distillery. Loch Ardnahoe offers exceptionally soft water that has been filtered through peat and rock for thousands of years. The result is an exceptional water source to use in all aspects of the whisky making process.

Mysteries surround Loch Ardnahoe: no one is quite sure how deep it is, while others say there’s a ghost of a charging white steed that rises out of the Loch on a full moon. They’re stories for another time…

One could be forgiven for thinking they’re in heaven – a natural, stunning and magical environment to create an exceptional spirit with a heart and soul of its very own.

 

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Mill in whisky distillery

Barley and the Boby Mill

Barley and the Boby Mill

The whole process of making whisky is a remarkable chemistry that is orchestrated by the most skilled masters of their art. Firstly, the barley is malted on Islay, a process where the malt is steeped in water in order to allow the seeds to germinate; that unlocks the sugar potential to be turned into alcohol later in the process. Once the barley has been soaked, it is then dried over peat smoke for around 20 hours, this is the foundation of the distinctive peaty Islay flavour in the ultimate spirit.  The barley is then ground into ‘grist’ in our beautiful 100 year old Vickers Boby mill – the only piece of equipment in the distillery which is not new. A little bit of the past, brought to the present as we go onto the future.

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The Mash Tun

The Mash Tun

The milled grist is transferred to our copper-domed mash tun. Water from Loch Ardnahoe is heated, added to the grist and the process begins to produce a liquid called ‘wort’: a sweet, sugary solution and in our case, also smoky. The attention to detail at this point in the process is paramount: too hot and the enzymes will die, too cold and the enzymes will not convert as much starch. At Ardnahoe the aim is to create the clearest wort possible and this can only be accomplished by careful consideration as to how much the mixture is mashed. Therefore, it is constantly checked for temperature, mixing rates and quality. The result at Ardnahoe is a liquid so clear, pure and sweet that it lends itself perfectly to our ultimate, unique and dynamic spirit.

The wort is separated from the barley husks and taken to the next stage of the process, whilst the husks, known as “draff” are taken away by local farmers to be used as cattle feed.

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