William Grant & Sons’ new state-of-the-art Ailsa Bay malt distillery at Girvan in Ayrshire, Scotland was officially opened by the Company’s Life President Charles Grant Gordon today, 19 January 2009, and was later visited by His Royal Highness The Prince Charles, Duke of Rothesay.
Prince Charles spent over an hour touring the new Ailsa Bay Distillery accompanied by Peter Gordon, Chairman of William Grant & Sons, and a member of the fifth generation of the Grant family. The Duke of Rothesay spoke to many of the Company’s long-service craftsmen and employees across the site and also to Roland van Bommel, Chief Executive; Bill White, Group Operations Director and Girvan Site Leader, Conn Lynch.
The new Distillery is located adjacent to William Grant & Sons’ Girvan grain whisky distillery operations, which were built in just nine months by Charles Gordon in 1963. With construction starting in January 2007, the Ailsa Bay Distillery was also built in nine months with the first spirit flowing from the stills in September 2007.
The Ailsa Bay Distillery, named, by the Company’s employees, after Ailsa Craig, 10 miles from the distillery in the Irish Sea, makes use of the existing infrastructure in Girvan and contains four wash and four spirit stills that produce a range of high quality single malt whiskies for the company’s award-winning Grant’s range of blends.
Commented Peter Gordon: “We are delighted and honoured to show the Ailsa Bay Distillery to His Royal Highness. Everyone involved in the project demonstrated what can be done with the right blend of engineering expertise and a team spirit that generated remarkable shared commitment to the completion date. We are honoured that His Royal Highness was able to meet some of the team and affirm our pride in their achievements.
“We have opened Scotland’s newest distillery to increase capacity and supply of malt whisky for blending so we can meet the growing demand for Grant’s around the world. By continuing our constant drive to develop and improve the quality of the Grant’s blend, we hope that we can ensure the long-term future of the Girvan site and our 130 employees here,” he said.
The Duke of Rothesay also visited the ‘Gin Palace’ at Girvan, home to William Grant & Sons’ Hendrick’s Gin, to discover how the world’s fastest growing super premium gin brand (Source: IWSR 2007) is made using a unique marriage of spirit from its Carter Head and Bennet stills and then infused with cucumber and rose petals to produce a wonderfully refreshing gin.
The Prince completed his tour of the 380 acre site, by filling one of four casks with new make Ailsa Bay spirit, which will be laid down in the distillery’s warehouses to mature and will be later bottled for The Prince’s Trust.
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