A new distillery, based in the East Neuk of Fife near St Andrews, is partway through construction.
Kingsbarns Distillery, which upon completion will produce Single Malt Scotch Whisky, is the creation of the Kingsbarns Company of Distillers and the Wemyss family, who already own and operate an independent bottler called Wemyss Vintage Malts. The project comprises the conversion of an existing listed farm steading into a working distillery and is set to be open to the public by November 2014.
Premier Construction caught up with Gary Henney, from Wemyss Properties, who is the project manager for the development to find out more. Work began on site in May 2013 and so far is progressing on schedule. There are three elements to the development: the physical construction of the distillery building, infrastructure and roads; the creation of the visitors centre in existing buildings; and the procurement of distillery process equipment. Gary added:
“The converted farm steading spans 10,000 square feet, with the new build distillery aspect of the development covering 6,000 square feet of that space. The site comprises the distillery, cafe, shop and visitors centre. One of the challenges of the project has been striking the balance between housing the industrial process of distilling with the needs of tourists visiting the site.
“The distillery has been designed to retain many of the existing historic features within the original farm buildings. Examples of this are reclaiming the Dutch clay pantiles from the original buildings and the major restoration of the historic “doocot” (or dovecot). We are also retaining the main features, elevations and facades of the old farm buildings.”
Upon completion visitors will walk from the car park past the original well which acted as the main water supply to the farm, into the octagonal shaped distillery entrance which used to be a horse gang mill. Then visitors have the option to enjoy the visitors centre and continue on the tour of the distillery, or simply visit the onsite shop and cafe.
The distillery and visitors centre boasts an interpretation space where guests can learn about the history of the area and malt whisky in Scotland from a tour guide, as well as being shown firsthand the distilling process. The final stop on the distillery tour is to one of the tasting rooms on the upper floor.
The still house, which is currently under construction, will hold the equipment to mill and mash the malt. It will also hold wash back vessels where the fermentation of the malt takes place and the two stills used for distillation. Theresulting new make spirit has to mature for at least three year in oak casks before it can be called single malt Scotch whisky. Warehousing will take place in another location.
So far the team have completed ninety five per cent of the stone work on the new distillery building, poured the concrete floors, and are progressing with the roof trusses. The construction schedule runs up until the end of May 2014. Colorado Construction are the main contractors for the project and Simpson and Brown are the architects.
When the centre opens it will provide over 20 jobs to local people over full time, part time and seasonal contracts. Gary Henney added:
“It has been one of the most challenging projects I have been involved in as we are not only overseeing the development from concept to completion but also operating it as a business. Trying to forecast business challenges that might occur in the future is quite different from the usual role of a project manager; I have however learned a lot and am enjoying the experience.
“In the long term the centre will be a welcome boost to the local economy, bringing more tourism and employment opportunities to the area as well as growing the existing Wemyss Vintage Malt brand.”