THE man credited with turning The Macallan into one of the leading single malt Scotch whiskies, has been appointed chairman of The Ardgowan Distillery Company, writes Kevin Scott.

Willie Philips said he is aiming to help create a “really outstanding” new lowland single malt whisky.

The distillery’s owners plan to build a world-class malt whisky distillery and visitor centre on the Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip. Planning permission for the development was lodged last year and a decision is expected shortly.

Mr Phillips was managing director of The Macallan malt whisky from 1978 until the company was bought by Highland Distillers in 1996. He was also managing director of Janneau SA, from 1997 to 2003 and has been a non-executive director of a number of companies associated with the Scotch whisky industry, and was chairman of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society for ten years.

The original Ardgowan Distillery was founded in Greenock in 1896 before being destroyed in the 1941 Blitz.

Mr Phillips said: “I’m really interested in the idea of creating a new lowland malt whisky in this part of Scotland, which is close to Irvine, where I spent much of my youth. The Ardgowan team is looking to bring on board one of the most experienced ‘noses’ in the businesses – someone who will help them craft a new spirit of great quality – and I am sure we will together create a really outstanding new lowland single malt whisky.”

Ardgowan Distillery chief executive Martin McAdam added: “Willie Phillips has a real passion for whisky and decades of experience in making superlative spirits and marketing them around the world.

“We have a fantastic plan to build a globally-recognised new lowland malt whisky distillery of which Inverclyde and Scotland will be proud, and we look forward to working with Willie in bringing our ambitious vision to life,” McAdam says.