PLANS to build a distillery in the Scottish Borders have received a major boost after its founding partners secured a £10 million funding injection.

The Three Stills Company (TTSC), set up by four former executives of William Grant & Sons, are poised to submit plans to develop the distillery in a disused industrial estate in Hawick early next year.

It is vying to become first to be built in the Borders for 180 years, with former Scottish rugby player Finlay Calder and Bill Dobbie, founder of the Cupid dating website, have previously announced their involvement in moves to start separate whisky making ventures in the region.

TTSC, which hopes the first spirit from its stills will flow in 2017, was founded by drinks industry executives George Tait, John Fordyce, Tim Carton and Tony Roberts.

They have secured heavyweight backing from high-profile figures such as the Duke of Buccleuch and the Edinburgh-based investment company Badenoch & Co, whose owner Malcolm Offord will become TTSC chairman. Also backing the enterprise are the Ballande family of France, who originally come from the Scottish Lowlands and are now behind an international commercial group with interests in France and Asia Pacific, and the Swiss-based investment group Drake Enterprises, which has Scottish origins and a background in food retailing, real estate and agribusiness.

The four founders of TTSC “retained some capital” in the distillery business, which will incorporate a visitor centre to complement tourist attractions in the Borders.

Mr Fordyce, who is also formerly of Paisley-based thread business Coates plc, said the partners were attracted to Hawick because there is currently no distilling activity in the area.

He highlighted the rich textile making history in the area, which is believed to be as suitable for distilling as it is for cashmere and tweed, as well as being part of one of Scotland’s main barley producing areas.

“You need the right kind of climate, the right levels of humidity,” Mr Fordyce said. “You need excellent water. And we’re right in the middle of the barley zone.”

Mr Fordyce, who spent the last 10 years working in the wine industry in Portugal, added: “The Borders have a pool of industrial staff who are used to factories and making stuff, so we have got access to really good people.”

TTSC ultimately expects to employ up to 20 staff at the site.

Stuart Nickerson, the whisky industry veteran who recently launched the Shetland Distillery Company, has been brought on board as a consultant. He will advise on the whisky profile of the malt, which Mr Fordyce said will “naturally be more Lowland style than Speyside style.

“It will be slightly lighter, and more aromatic, than you would perhaps get in the north," he explained. "That’s the general direction of travel.”

Asked when he hopes the distillery will become operational, Mr Fordyce flagged that “all being well” production will commence in 2017. He said the company plans to bring gin and vodka to the market before the Scotch whisky it makes matures and can legally be brought to market.

A decision on the brand names under which the spirits will be brought to market has still to be made. The company, which was formed in 2013, currently sells a blended Scotch called Clan Fraser in export markets. Based on spirit acquired from other distilleries, which it then bottles and blends, it has been used by TTSC to open up export markets.

Mr Fordyce said: “This is the first distillery in the Borders for a long time. We’ve got to get in there, settle in, get to know the town and a name will emerge.”

On the £10m investment, Mr Fordyce said the funding will cover the capital expenditure needed to get production up and running, as well as initial working capital.

He added: “The good thing about the investor group is that they all understand that these businesses are long-term investments, which take the application of capital and skills to get them up to speed."