THE Wemyss family, a Scottish business dynasty, has been unveiled as the backer of the £3 million Kingsbarns malt whisky distillery to be built in Fife.
The news comes a week after The Herald revealed that the distillery had secured a £670,000 government grant.
The Wemyss family has its roots in Fife and business interests from Kenyan tea plantations to Australian sheep farming, as well as independent whisky bottler Wemyss Malts.
William Wemyss said: “This rare opportunity to distil our own single malt whisky and develop a new Scotch whisky brand to support our existing business as an independent bottler will secure the family interest in Scotch for the next generation.”
Kingsbarns was founded by former golf caddie Doug Clement in 2009.
He had unsuccessfully sought backing from small investors but secured the Government grant that contributed to the Wemyss family’s decision to take over the project.
The distillery is now under the auspices of a new company, wholly owned by the Wemyss family, separate to the Wemyss Development Company, which is the vehicle for many of the family’s interests.
The distillery will be built within sight of the Kingsbarns championship golf course, on land leased from Sir Peter Erskine of the Cambo Estate.
It will cost an estimated £3m to construct the distillery and associated visitor centre on the East Newhall Farm steading.
It is hoped the distillery will be a draw for visitors attracted to the region by golf but who also want to learn about distilling.
Development of the existing listed building will begin in the coming weeks, with distilling starting next year.
The Wemyss family’s historic seat is Wemyss Castle in Fife. Its links with the whisky industry go back to the turn of the 19th century when John Haig, founder of John Haig and Company, built his first distillery on Wemyss land.
Its bottling business Wemyss Malts, founded in 2005, bottles blended malts such as Peat Chimney as well as a range of single cask whiskies.
The family has a link to the site of the Kingsbarns Distillery because the seventh Earl of Wemyss owned part of the Cambo Estate between 1759 and 1783.