Laggan Bay Distillery is set to become the 12th whisky distillery on Islay as The Islay Boys get the green light to start building.

Is there any room left on Islay for new whisky distilleries?

Yes, apparently. At least according to Argyll and Bute Council, which has awarded planning permission for a distillery and brewery to be built at Glenegedale in Laggan Bay on Islay. Set to become the 12th whisky maker on the small island off the west coast of Scotland, the Islay Boys-backed distillery is going to be called Laggan Bay. For reasons we may never understand.

The people behind the new distillery are familiar with the booze world already: the Islay Boys has been bottling whisky like Flatnöse and Bårelegs since 2016. It also makes beer too. In 2018, the firm purchased and comprehensively revamped Islay Ales Co Ltd, Islay’s only brewery.

The brand, which was founded by Port Charlotte natives Donald MacKenzie and Mackay Smith, will now have its own site to make whisky, with plans to create a traditional, double-distillation Islay whisky, but there will also be a building to house a brew kit for its Islay Ales.

The distillery and brewery site will cover some two hectares less than a mile from Islay’s longest beach, the Big Strand in Laggan Bay, which also handily places it just opposite Islay’s airport. Anybody who has ever flown into Islay will know a stiff drink is very welcome after that flight.  

Laggan Bay Distillery

The Islay Boys can now add Laggan Bay Distillery founders to their CV

The Islay Boys x Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd

The Islay Boys aren’t doing it on their own, however, as the duo has partnered with family-owned whisky experts and owners of Tamdhu and Glengoyne distilleries Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd to assist in bringing the new distillery to fruition. 

A long-standing relationship with Leonard Russell, chairman of Ian Macleod Distillers Ltd, helped secure the deal, and he commented on the news: “I have known and worked with the Islay Boys for a long time, and I’m delighted to be able to bring our long experience in creating quality Scotch single malts to the Laggan Bay Distillery project.”

There’s no word yet on when we can expect to see construction start, nevermind when whisky will run off its stills (we don’t even have an artist’s impression of what it will look like), but even though Islay is starting to look exceptionally cramped with distilleries, it’s hard not to be excited about what’s to come. It’s Islay whisky, after all.