New whisky distillery marks latest chapter in Ardgowan Estate’s colourful 600 year history

It’s an ancient estate with links to Pocahontas, King Robert the Bruce and an infamous coven of witches, and now plans for a new distillery mark the latest chapter in Ardgowan Estate’s colourful 600 year history.

Yesterday Inverclyde Council approved plans for a new £12 million distillery and visitor centre on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip, 30 miles west of Glasgow.

The council green light means the Ardgowan Distillery Company can now advance their proposal to build a world-class lowland malt whisky distillery and visitor attraction on the estate, with plans to be operational in 2019.

Sir Ludovic Shaw-Stewart

Sir Ludovic Shaw-Stewart

“The lands around the estate have been occupied nearly continuously for over 4,000 years and the history of my family at Ardgowan stretches back over 600 years. In that time, Ardgowan has played its part in the story of Scotland,” says Sir Ludovic (‘Ludo’) Shaw-Stewart, the 12th Baronet and owner of Ardgowan Estate.  

“King Robert the Bruce fought here prior to Bannockburn and his descendent King Robert III granted the estate lands to my ancestor Sir John Stewart in 1404,” says Sir Ludo, who is planning for the distillery to become a cornerstone of the regeneration of the Ardgowan Estate. 

The estate saw a series of infamous witch trials in the 17th centuries, and in 1819 another ancestor Sir Michael Shaw Stewart (the 5th Baronet) married Eliza Farquhar, a direct descendent of Native American Princess Pocahontas, one of the most significant figures in the early colonial history of America.

“The Ardgowan Distillery will be a fantastic new chapter in the history of this area, and all future drams will have these extraordinary bloodlines – from both Scotland and the United States – in their veins,” Sir Ludo concludes.

Work on the £12million distillery will begin this year, and will see the construction of a state-of-the-art facility on the site of an old sawmill on estate land near Inverkip.  

Martin McAdam

Martin McAdam

“Our goal is to produce a truly outstanding seven year old lowland single malt, says Martin McAdam, the distillery’s chief executive.  

“In the coming weeks we will commence detailed design and procurement work for the construction of the distillery, and this will give us the opportunity to engage with local businesses and the public in order to develop our plan and start to employ the staff that will be engaged during the construction and operational stage,” McAdam says.

Last month the distillery announced the appointment of former Macallan managing director Willie Phillips as company chairman, and the addition of ex Bruachladdich and Diageo veterans Gordon Wright and Michael Egan in commercial and product engineering advisory roles.  

“We have a tremendous team on board and are now looking for our next round of investors who can join us on this very exciting journey,” McAdam concludes.

The new distillery will resurrect the name of the Ardgowan Distillery, which was founded in 1896 and located in Baker Street, Greenock. After a few years of whisky production, the distillery was used to make grain spirt and industrial alcohol until it was destroyed in the May Blitz of 1941.