Gartbreck after all?
The weather on Islay can be rough, though it seems that the last few months saw dark clouds hovering over the Gartbreck estate and the planned new distillery. However, according to scotchwhisky.com, and what perspired from Jean Donnay’s Facebook posts, the skies have cleared a bit and some sunshine is to be expected soon.
A quick revision – Gartbreck was to be the ninth distillery operating on the island of Islay. The plans of the French entrepreneur Jean Donnay, owner of Glann ar Mor in Brettany, had to be suspended earlier this year, when it turned out that his business partner-to-be Hunter Laing purchased a strip of land adjacent to the planned distillery site, without which the whole project would not be feasible. It is unclear what the real plans of each party were, what really happened between them. It was evident that their paths had parted when Hunter Laing announced their plans to build Ardnahoe, yet another distillery, at a different spot on Islay.
Hunter Laing repeatedly claimed that the strip of land in question was for sale, but they expected a reasonable price offer. On the other hand, Donnay often publicly expressed his disappointment – to put thing mildly – over the situation and Hunter Laing’s attitude. Yet, as it seems, both parties have finally reached an agreement, and the land without which construction work could not be commenced has been finally sold to Jean Donnay for what we may speculate was a satisfactory price.
If that is the case, it looks like there no more obstacles for work to begin and the ruined property of Gartbreck to be transformed into a distillery. And we can expect the first spirit to flow from their stills in a year, up to two years’ time. Jean Donnay declared the plans to erect a traditional distillery, with direct-fired stills, wooden washbacks and worm tub condensers. Gartbreck is also going to malt their own barley for what is expected to be a production volume of 120 thousand litres of pure spirit per annum, of which some 20% will be made from locally-grown Islay barley.
We keep our fingers crossed for the tenth distillery on Islay!
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