THE company developing a £20 million “cathedral of whisky” in the west of Scotland has stepped up its launch preparations with the appointment of a new chairman.

Paul Currie, a co-founder of both Isle of Arran Distillers and The Lakes Distillery in Cumbria, has joined the increasingly heavyweight senior leadership team at Ardgowan Distillery, which is under construction now.

The distillery, which is being developed on the historic Ardgowan Estate near Inverkip, will restore whisky making to Inverclyde for the first time since the Second World War when it becomes operational. Production is scheduled to commence at the distillery, which with its planned visitor centre is expected to create 47 jobs, at the end of this year.

Mr Currie brings around three decades of industry experience to Ardgowan, which has been designed to be net-zero in terms of carbon emissions and counts Distil, the listed drinks company that owns Blackwood Scottish gin and Redleg Spiced Rum, among its investors. Distil provided Ardgowan with a £3m convertible loan note, which will convert into equity after 10 years in 2032.

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Mr Currie, who remains a shareholder in The Lakes Distillery but is no longer involved with Isle of Arran, said: “There has been great change in the malt whisky industry over the last 30 years, as many new independent distilleries have opened. I have been fortunate to have been involved as co-founder of two of these, Isle of Arran and The Lakes, both of which continue to grow and prosper.

“A new wave of distilleries are now opening both in Scotland and in the rest of the world and Ardgowan Distillery is set to be at the forefront of these, with a terrific location, innovative ideas, and an outstanding team.

“From the cutting-edge technologies helping the distillery reach its sustainability goals to the commitment to quality made through Ardgowan’s investment in its unique Infinity casks, everything to date has been planned to the highest standard. With construction now under way on site, it is a pivotal time to be joining the team.

“I am particularly looking forward to supporting the development of the Clan Ardgowan programme which allows whisky lovers from all over the world to become part of Ardgowan Distillery’s journey. I am also enthusiastic about bringing my knowledge and experience to the team to help Ardgowan to become a leading single malt brand.”

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The appointment comes shortly Ardgowan, which is headed by chief executive Martin McAdam, hired David Keir, a founding director of The GlenAllachie Distillers Company, as sales and marketing director. Mr Keir arrived at Ardgowan with more than 25 years’ industry experience. The senior team also includes ex-Macallan master of wood Stuart Macpherson and master whisky maker Max McFarlane, previously lead whisky maker at Edrington.

Mr McAdam said: “As a start-up distillery it is so important for us to be able to attract great people. With Paul’s experiences from both Isle of Arran and The Lakes Distillery, he is someone who has built distillery businesses from the ground-up it is a real pleasure to bring him on board as our chairman.

“We share a lot in common with Lakes Distillery and what Paul and his team have done at Lakes is similar to the visitor experience that we wish to bring to Ardgowan Distillery.”

Don Goulding, executive chairman of Distil, said: “We congratulate Paul and the whole Ardgowan team on this appointment. Paul has fantastic experience in the industry, and we're sure that he will add a huge amount of value to the business in his new role. We look forward to working with him closely as our partnership develops.”