For the first time in nearly 200 years, a distillery in the Scottish Borders will be available for the public to visit.
Last time someone in the Scottish Borders started a distillery was in Kelso in the year 1825 by John Mason and Peter Nichol, this venture ended in 1837 making it almost 200 years since spirit was legally distilled in the Scottish Borders region.
The Borders Distillery is situated in Hawick which is probably best known for its knitwear from brands like Johnstons, Lyle & Scott, and Pringle at a site earlier occupied mainly by the old Hills of Hawick sweets factory. Sustainability is an important factor and much of the stone, slate, doors and ironwork has been reused in the renovation of the buildings. Process water is drawn by a borehole from the water table and cooling water is drawn from, and returned to, the Tevior river just across the road from the distillery. Malted Concerto barley is currently being used and it is sourced locally. Likewise, all coproducts from the distilling process are used in the region. All this makes the Borders Distillery may be one of first true zero-waste distilleries in Scotland.
Although spirit was already being distilled in March earlier this year, the distillery’s visitor centre and shop opened to the public on the 1st May. Besides taking part of history in the making, while waiting for the spirit to become 3 years of age to be allowed to be called Scotch Whisky, visitors will be able to take part in guided tours and having a wee dram in the bar and lounge area.
Once ready, the whisky is believed to be of a typical Lowland style.
We assume The Three Stills Company offers visitors their other brands, Clan Fraser and Lower East Side to be tasted and bought here. Clan Fraser is a blended scotch while Lower East Side as a blended malt scotch whisky. A Borders Gin will be added to the portfolio in summer 2018.
We will hopefully have more to write about this very special and interesting venture very soon.
See full press release further down!
The Borders Distillery
Address: Commercial Road, Hawick, TD9 7AQ
Malt specs: Currently “Concerto” malted barley
Stills: 2x 7,500-litre spirit stills and 1x Carter Head still
Mash tun: 5 tonnes
Washbacks: 8x 25,000 litre
Wash stills: 2x 12,500-litre wash stills
Annual maximum capacity: 2 million litre
New make strength: 70% out of the spirit still
Water source: Process water from the borehole. Cooling water from the Teviot river (across the road from the distillery)
Owners: The Three Stills Company
Full press release:
THE BORDERS DISTILLERY® – FIRST SINCE 1837
– Distilling Returns to the Scottish Borders After an Absence of Nearly 200 Years –
It was at 10.11am on 6th March 2018 that new-make spirit started to flow from the copper pot stills at The Borders Distillery in Hawick, a pivotal moment not only for the four founders of the Three Stills Company (TTSC), owners of The Borders Distillery® but also for distilling in the Scottish Borders.
Tomorrow (Tuesday 1st May 2018), The Borders Distillery® will officially open its doors to the public, marking the revival of an industry that had ceased to exist in the region for nearly 200 years – the last-known distillery closed in Kelso in 1837.
In March 2013, Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts and George Tait, founded TTSC aiming to capitalise on the growth of Scotch Whisky sales, particularly in Malt Whisky, and the explosion in demand for gin made in Scotland. Having all worked at one time or the other at international distillers William Grant & Sons and having spent much of their professional lives in the drinks sector, they knew there was an opportunity to be had in building a new distillery and the opportunity lay in the Scottish Borders.
It was John Fordyce who identified Hawick as a potential location. Having worked for world-leading thread manufacturer COATS plc, he knew that the town not only boasted a plentiful supply of magnificent water but it also, owing to its rich manufacturing heritage, had a skilled workforce that to tap into. This, coupled with the absence of an operational distillery and the fact that the region is the heartland for barley production in the UK, presented a compelling case for the distillery to be built in the Scottish Borders as Tim Carton, CEO explained.
“There were some very convincing arguments for us to look to the Scottish Borders for our distillery,” he said. “The skilled labour market and textile manufacturing history, particularly in tweed and cashmere, were two big influencing factors, as was ready availability of natural resources and raw materials.”
In November 2015 TTSC announced that it had reached its £10m fundraising target to be able to realise its vision for The Borders Distillery® and work started a year later on the 1.3-hectare site overlooking the River Teviot in Hawick.
The site houses two large sheds, dating from 1888, and a Tudor Cotswold building, which was constructed by Hawick Urban Electric Company in 1903. TTSC took the decision to preserve as much of the buildings’ historical features in the redevelopment as they could and, under the guidance of GMA Architects and contractors M & J Ballantyne, signs of this sensitive restoration style are evident throughout.
The random rubble construction walls have been left exposed; the original trusses, wooden sarking and aluminium batons spanning the mash and still halls, have been fully refurbished. Wherever possible, materials have been salvaged, reused or repurposed: stonework, ironmongery, doors, even slates have all found new homes.
The creation of a sustainable business model that would deliver social, environmental and economic benefits was fundamental to the TTSC management team.
Up to nineteen jobs will be created locally across the business’ core functions and over 65% of the civil budget was spent in the Borders area. The barley sourced for distilling is entirely grown in the Scottish Borders, while all co-products (draff, spent lees and pot ale) will be used solely in the region. Process water for the distillery is drawn by borehole from the water table and cooling water is taken from the River Teviot, in the same way the town’s textile mills have done for centuries.
The distillery comprises a visitor centre and shop on the ground floor and entertaining/meeting space on the first floor: the open-plan Gallery, furnished with a bar and lounge seating, and the Teviot Room. The still hall is equipped with two wash stills, two spirit stills and a specially commissioned Carter Head still, all manufactured by Forsyths of Rothes. Operating at full capacity, The Borders Distillery® can produce up to two million litres of pure alcohol.
It will be a minimum of three years in cask before the first Borders Distillery Single Malt can legally be made available for sale. TTSC, however, already has two brands in market: Clan Fraser, a blended scotch whisky, and Lower East Side, a blended malt scotch whisky.
Tim Carton added: “It was five years ago that we (the founders) came together to create a business plan that would spearhead the resurrection of an industry that had been lost to this region for generations. This is a seminal moment for our business. In addition to being the first Scotch Whisky distillery to exist and operate in the Scottish Borders since 1837, we are now in a position to contribute to the growth of this fine industry. Scotch whisky is again experiencing exciting times with growth fueled by new and more mature markets.”
Scotch Whisky is the world’s number one internationally traded spirit drink and it enjoyed a record-breaking year for exports in 2017. According to official HMRC data, last year Scotch grew in both volume and value (by 1.6% and 8.9% respectively) to a total of £4.36bn – the equivalent of 1.23bn bottles exported globally.
The Borders Distillery® will open 10am to 4pm Monday to Saturday and guided tours will be held on the hour, every hour, for a ticket price of £12.