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.

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 the current Scottish 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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Our Water

Our Water

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 at our distillery.

Mysteries abound Loch Ardnahoe: no one is quite sure how deep it and 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 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 in 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 smouldered over peat smoke for around 20 hours – that’s part of what gives the malted barley the foundations of the rich peaty Islay flavour. The barley is then ground into ‘grist’ and at Ardnahoe that’s done through our specially sourced and extremely rare Vickers Boby 100-year-old mill of which there are only five in the world. A little bit of the past, brought to the present as we go onto the future.

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Mash tun in whisky distillery

The Mash Tuns

The Mash Tuns

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 starches. 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 is lends itself perfectly to our ultimate, unique and dynamic spirit.

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Wash backs in whisky distillery

The Wash backs

The Wash backs

It is in the four Oregon Pine traditional wash backs that the next part of the alchemic transformation takes place. Specially designed and constructed, this long, straight variety of timber has minimal sap and knots and offers the optimum habitat for yeast development. Chilled yeast is added to the sweet, clear wort and the revelry begins. The yeast feeds on the sugar to produce alcohol and froths violently before subsiding after 50 hours into a ‘wash’, a liquid not unlike weak beer. The fermentation time is approximately 65 – 70 hours which gives Ardnahoe the flavours they are looking for. In the last few hours, after its rigorous antics, it’s left sitting silently, murmuring under its breath to add further sweet fruitiness.

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