Ardross is a new Scotch whisky distillery with impressive distilling pedigree and global ambition, located in the Northern Highlands.
In 2015, entrepreneur Barthélémy Brosseau teamed up with industry legend Andrew Rankin, formerly of Morrison Bowmore and Chivas Brothers. In his capacity as Chairman and Master Blender, Rankin was given the mandate to find a suitable site for the £30 million project.
After roaming the Scottish Highlands, Rankin and his team found the dilapidated farm Ardross Mains, close to Dalmore. Located 30 miles north of Inverness in the Averon Valley, the 50-acre site included 19th century farmhouse buildings and its own water source, Loch Dubh.
Over two years the team set about faithfully restoring and renovating the site, reusing original masonry to preserve the historical integrity of the farmhouse, outbuildings and cottages.
During the build, Rankin called upon his industry connections to secure partnerships with world-renowned cooperages. As a result, Ardross sources Sherry casks from Bodegas José y Miguel Martín, Bourbon casks from Kelvin Cooperage in Kentucky, and have an agreement with the oldest independent Japanese cooperage for Mizunara oak. The latter was chosen to fill the inaugural Founders’ Casks in 2020.
The first spirit ran from the Ardross stills in 2019. Rankin and the team had anticipated a few months of iterating before they landed on their desired profile. Much to everyone’s surprise, this was 95% achieved after the first distillation.
Ardross will produce two whiskies: a Northern Highland and a peated malt. The distillery team, headed up by Rankin, has over 150 years’ experience. Rankin previously spent 22 years with Morrison Bowmore, working on some of the most famous whiskies including Bowmore Black, the Trilogy releases, and the 50 Year Old. He also oversaw production at Auchentoshan and Glen Garioch. Willie Dobbins, who spent more than 30 years at Morrison Bowmore before joining Hunter Laing, is the Ardross Operations Manager and Sandy Jamieson, who has worked in the industry since 1979, is Ardross’s Distillery Manager. Experimentation is high on the agenda – along with different cask finishes, the team is playing around with phenol levels (producing heavily peated styles akin to Laphroaig and Ardbeg and maturing them in Sherry butts).
Ardross has its own bonded warehouse in Cumbernauld, Scotland, with the capacity to house 30,000 barrels and 1,000 butts. The team also purchased a bottling line near Glasgow. Plans are afoot to buy a headquarters for its Single Cask Society Members.
Parent company, Greenwood Spirits Ltd has ambitions to become a truly global enterprise with production in Japan, the United States and Scotland. It already boasts a gin, mezcal and Armagnac in its portfolio.