A DISUSED Royal Air Force base near Campbeltown, which was used by US Navy Seals, is to be turned into a Scotch whisky distillery under plans submitted to Argyll & Bute Council today.

Glasgow-based Brave New Spirits, founded in 2020, aims to create around 30 permanent jobs in production, warehousing and distribution, as well as at a visitors’ centre, in the next few years.

The planned Witchburn Distillery has been designed by Organic Architects, whose founder described the project as a “key turning point” in Campbeltown’s history.

Helensburgh-based Organic Architects said the project would mark “the growing resurgence of the coastal town as a distinct whisky region”.

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It added: “Distillers are turning to Campbeltown as an alternative location to nearby Islay where its famous distilleries have been so successful that it is now ‘full’. There were once 30 distilleries in Campbeltown and, at the end of the 19th century, it was such a significant producer of whisky that the area was recognised as one of the great whisky regions and as important to Scotch whisky heritage as the regions of Speyside, Highland and Lowland.”

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Adam Hochul and Alexander Springensguth, joint owners of independent whisky bottler and blender Brave New Spirits, said: “We are looking forward to becoming part of the community, contributing to the already worldwide reputation of Campbeltown whisky. We could not find a better location to build our first stillhouse.

"The distillery is a great addition to our existing portfolio of internationally recognised brands of Scotch whisky, but also an opportunity to give back to the outstanding community of Scottish whisky distillers.” 

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Gareth Roberts, founder and director of Organic Architects, said: “Craft whisky makers can thrive here, benefiting from clean water, local power generation and an idyllic location. The whisky boom will provide local well-paid and stable jobs across a variety of roles including distilling, warehousing and [in the] visitor centre. Campbeltown is definitely one to watch and we are proud to be involved in its key turning point in history.”

He noted the Witchburn Distillery, located between Campbeltown Airport and Machrihanish village, would be powered by 100% green renewable energy sources and the latest in heat and energy recovery systems.

Mr Roberts added: "This particular building was formerly used by the US Navy Seals. A firing range and equipment stores will be replaced by copper pot stills and spirit vessels. The tall parachute drying tower is now transitioning to the happy use of whisky cask maturation – brightly painted it will be the most prominent part of the new whisky brand.”

Andrew Nairn, founding master distiller at Brave New Spirits, said: “I’m delighted to have the opportunity to work...to develop a distillery to produce a truly great Campbeltown spirit. To combine traditional artisan methods of whisky-making with the latest green technology is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”