Happy Fèis Ìle! It’s the week of the Islay Festival and there is so much to enjoy about Islay whisky at the moment. Just take a look at all our sparkling coverage.

But there’s also the promise of what’s to come. Heading into 2024, there were nine distilleries in operation on Islay. Ardnahoe – opened by Glasgow-based whisky bottler and blender Hunter Laing in 2019 – was the new kid on the block and has been busy recently, launching its first whisky to mark this year’s festival. 

We’ve also recently seen the legendary Port Ellen’s fling its doors open and distilling resuming there will bring us up to 10 working distilleries on Islay. But even though that’s a nice round number (and frankly more than enough for a small island whose resources are already stretched so thin), there’s more on the way. 

These are the confirmed Islay whisky distilleries set to open in the future, three promising sites that bring the total of Islay whisky distilleries to 13. 

The Islay whisky distilleries that will open in the future

GeGeorgie Crawford Elixir Distillers

Georgie Crawford from Elixir Distillers

Portintruan

Portintruan (pronounced ‘Port-nah-truan’) is being built outside Port Ellen town on Islay’s south coast. It takes its name from the historic farm estate where the distillery is located and means ‘place of the stream’. Works first broke ground at the end of 2020 and early reports suggested it would open and begin distillation this year (2024), led by distillery manager Georgie Crawford.

The Elixir Distillers project promises to be home to both old-style production techniques and modern technology with a focus on sustainability. The company is in contact with Islay Energy Trust, fellow distillers on the island and suppliers to achieve a greener process. There will also be an experimental distillery within the site – so it will be two distilleries in one. This will enable the team to produce different Scotch whisky styles plus rum. 

Plans for the site also include 14 houses for Islay families working at the distillery, a visitor’s centre, a bar and restaurant, a tasting room bothy overlooking the sea, and a multi-purpose educational facility that will serve as a base for an apprentice programme to train the next generation of distillers. 

A Render of what Laggan Bay Distillery will look like

Is this what Laggan Bay Distillery will look like?

Laggan Bay

Single malt whisky distillery Laggan Bay is the 12th whisky distillery on Islay. The distillery is under construction and due for completion in 2025 when the first spirit will flow from its handmade copper pot stills and the talk is that we will be able to enjoy a brand-new Islay single malt before the end of the decade.

Although full details are still under wraps, we know it’s a partnership between Ian Macleod Distillers (whose portfolio includes Glengoyne, Tamdhu, Edinburgh Gin, and the soon-to-be-re-opened Rosebank) and The Islay Boys, whose newly completed brewery sits next to the distillery at Glenegedale, close to the beautiful bay that gives the distillery its name.

The companies are embracing sustainability (something of a theme in this article) working with the Islay Energy Trust and Scottish Power to explore renewable energy options and have committed to green flame energy to reduce its carbon emissions. Laggan Bay Distillery will also feature wetlands to manage its liquid waste and provide a haven for local wildlife. 

Further details will be released later this year, while visitors to Islay’s 2024 Fèis Ìle will be able to see the plans and the soon-to-be-completed Warehouse 1, as well as ask further questions at Islay Ales Co Ltd. at Glenegedale opposite the distillery site. 

A render of what Chivas' Islay Distillery will look like

An idea of how the stillroom at Chivas’ Islay Distillery will look

Chivas Brother’s project

An as yet un-named development from one of Scotland’s biggest Scotch whisky distillers is set to establish production on Islay for the first time. In October 2023, it was announced that Chivas Brothers, which makes Ballantine’s, Chivas Regal, The Glenlivet, and Royal Salute, has announced plans to build a distillery at Gartbreck Farm, west of Bowmore at Saltpan Point on the shore of Loch Indaal.

Chivas, owned by French drinks giant Pernod Ricard, doesn’t have an Islay whisky in its portfolio so this new build is filling an important need. We’ve been told that the future Islay single malt from the island’s 13th distillery will reflect the region’s “distinctly smoky and peated profile”.

Jean-Etienne Gourgues, chairman and chief executive of Chivas, said the project allowed them to “do something we rarely do, which is to start from scratch”. He added: “Here on Islay, we can create a blueprint for carbon-neutral distilling and continue to usher in this era of sustainable Scotch. We are committed to Scotch, to the Islay community and the landscape that makes it the perfect place to continue our vision to shape the future of whisky.”