A SCOTCH whisky distillery is to be built near Grantown-on-Spey by the owner of Benromach.

Speymalt Whisky Distributors, which is unveiling the plans for the multi-million-pound investment today, expects the planned new distillery at Craggan will become a “significant local employer”.

The Elgin-based group, which is owned by the Urquhart family and is the parent company of Gordon & MacPhail, added the project would establish the first new malt whisky distillery to be built in Cairngorms National Park since its creation in 2003.

Speymalt, a whisky specialist with activities spanning distillation, wholesale and retail, said no decision had been made yet on a name for the planned new distillery.

Ian McConnell: Long-term view on Scotch refreshing in world of all-too-short corporate attention spans

It hopes the new distillery will be a major tourist attraction. It noted Benromach, on the outskirts of Forres, attracts more than 13,000 visitors every year.

The Urquhart family acquired the then-mothballed Benromach Distillery in 1993, with Speymalt noting this purchase had seen the realisation of a “long-held ambition”. Benromach, which was built originally in 1898, was reopened in 1998, following extensive refurbishment. Speymalt is this year celebrating the 20th anniversary of Benromach’s return.

Ewen Mackintosh, managing director of Speymalt, said: “We continue to build our business using our expertise and skill in the industry. The purchase of Benromach Distillery and the growth of this brand internationally over the past 20 years has proved to be a huge success. Constructing a second distillery will enable us to continue creating a sustainable long-term legacy for future generations.”

Speymalt, which employs about 150 people, said it now hoped to start a consultation process regarding the proposed new distillery with the local community, before submitting a planning application later in the year. A public exhibition of the plans will take place over the summer.

Ian McConnell: Long-term view on Scotch refreshing in world of all-too-short corporate attention spans

If the planning application is successful, construction of the proposed new distillery is expected to start next year. Speymalt, a fourth-generation family business dating back more than 120 years, said construction should take 12 months to complete.

Read More: Scots exports follow whisky route into Taiwan

Mr Mackintosh said: “Building a second distillery is an important part of our business plan and we have spent some time researching a suitable site. We believe we have found the perfect place for our new distillery at Craggan.

“It’s a stunning location with strong transport links and can accommodate the distillery, warehousing and a visitor experience. The Cairngorms are a beautiful part of the world and we aim to design a distillery which will be in keeping with this wonderful landscape.”

Read More: Saturday interview: Distillery chief driven by job of taking the spirit of Harris global

Last November, when Speymalt announced growth in sales for the year to February 2017, Mr Mackintosh had declared: “We plan to increase our distilling capacity in the future in order to build on our success."

Read More: Ian McConnell: Taiwan's connoisseurs have long enjoyed premium whisky offering

Sales of whisky from Benromach Distillery rose by 27% in the year to February 2017, amid global brand-building investment.

On the back of Benromach’s sales growth, Speymalt increased production at the distillery by one-third in January 2017.

The greatest growth in Benromach sales in the last year has been in Taiwan, Belgium, and the People’s Republic of China.

Speymalt’s big overseas markets are France, the People’s Republic of China, Germany, and Taiwan.

Ian McConnell: Long-term view on Scotch refreshing in world of all-too-short corporate attention spans

The fourth-generation family business’s overall sales increased by 10.8% to £28.3 million during the 12 months to February last year. Speymalt’s exports increased by 11.8% to £8.9m, and its UK sales rose by 10.4% to £19.4m. Pre-tax profits in the year to February 2017 were steady at around £4m.