Douglas Laing Announces Distillery Build and New Head Office Project

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A  new £10.7 million urban Whisky distillery and bottling complex is to be built on the banks of the River Clyde in the heart of Glasgow.

The ambitious and innovative project is being masterminded by one of the country’s fastest growing Scotch Whisky firms, Douglas Laing & Co.

The development at Pacific Quay, one of Glasgow’s most high profile waterfront sites, will also see the launch of their new Govan-based Malt Whisky, celebrating the connection between the firm and the site of its new distillery which will also house a corporate head office, a visitor centre, a whisky laboratory and archive, bar and bistro.

The new venture will enable the firm to focus on developing its highly successful global export trade – already selling to 50-plus countries worldwide. Plans and contacts are in place to further open up and expand into the emerging and huge Chinese market.

The new distillery Malt will allow further and deeper growth into existing markets including the USA, on the back of existing vibrant operations in Germany, France, Japan and Taiwan and the UK domestic market.

Beyond private family money, the Scottish Government is part-grant funding the innovative development by Douglas Laing, which will create up to 38 new jobs and will see the existing Douglas Laing workforce almost treble from 22 to 60.

The company is to receive £855,000 through the Food Processing Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) grant scheme, a £70 million funding programme for the food and drink business across Scotland which was launched in 2015. The grant will assist with the capital costs of distillery equipment and plant. The FPMC scheme is aimed at supporting such costs of businesses involved in the processing of primary agricultural produce to develop new and existing facilities.

The Govan-based distillery announcement comes at a time of consistent progress for Douglas Laing & Co which has doubled in size in the last 4 years and recorded double digit growth in the last three years. Profits are up 17 per cent last year alone, as sales soared 29 per cent globally.

Among other accolades, the company won a World Whiskies Award for Brand Innovators of the Year 2016 and the innovative expansion plan at Pacific Quay has secured the support of local MSP and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Announcing the funding, Scottish Government Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham said: “I would like to congratulate Douglas Laing & Co Ltd on securing this funding, which will pave the way to bring quality whisky production to the heart of Glasgow. This is just one example of how the Scottish Government in supporting our world-class producers to flourish, ensuring that our food and drink continues to be the cornerstone of our economy, environment and culture.”

Since its 1948 inception in Glasgow the firm depended on its filling programmes established with a range of distillers to create its own blends and concentrated on a sales and marketing business model. But now the company – recently announced as one of the top eight global family-owned spirits companies (*The Spirits Business) – will launch its own distillery complete with dedicated bottling and warehouse capacity on site, to handle its needs.

Third generation family member, Cara Laing, the Director of Whisky in the firm explains:

“Until now we have depended on third party companies for our production requirements. These working associations have been and still are invaluable, but now we feel it’s time  to be more in control of our own destiny and to build on our core and current business.

“With Generation 3 firmly entrenched, we undertook a strategic review and identified an opportunity to become a distiller in our own right with a dedicated bottling and warehouse capacity. We believe this will see the core business develop at a rate of 15 per cent year-on-year, helping to grow our existing brands while allowing us to introduce new marques, and seek out new international markets.

“Instead of being perceived as an independent bottler, we will become a distiller, owning the production process from start to finish – from barley to the bottle – with an initial capability of producing considerably more than 100,000 litres of alcohol per annum.”

Cara, one of the youngest members of the Keeper of the Quaich, an exclusive society which recognises those who have made outstanding commitment to the industry, is also an ambassador for the ‘Not Just For The Boys’ Campaign, which dispels the myth that certain industries should be male dominated.

She said:

“We have long held this ambition for the company to operate its own distillery and bottling operation. We are proud of our Glasgow Heritage and the company, founded and based in the city, are delighted to announce this project on the banks of the Clyde; in the heart of Glasgow.

“It will bring whisky distilling back to the south side of the city and will create welcome jobs, generate significant additional high-value exports and hopefully become an additional tourist attraction to the city.”

Whisky is worth more than £5 billion per annum to the UK economy and is expanding.

Douglas Laing & Co supply an award-winning range of artisan Scotch Whiskies and the new complex will enable the introduction of a range of new premium Scotch Whiskies.

Water will be piped to the complex from Loch Katrine which is the source of Glasgow’s water supply and 300 tonnes of barley will be brought in from Scottish farms to create the whisky.

The firm was founded by Cara’s grandfather, the eponymous Fred Douglas Laing and the company is now run by her father Fred, the Managing Director who said:

“With this innovative and ambitious plan to absorb our head office, distillery and bottling facility on one footprint, we continue to put in place an exciting future for Douglas Laing & Co and our team. We are indebted to all our suppliers and partners who have helped to bring us to this stage, and look forward to continuing those invaluable and trusted relationships in the future.”

The company recently appointed Danny MacLennan, formerly with BrewDog and William Grant & Sons, as Finance Director. He said “This is a deeply impressive business with great brands, and a raft of stimulating plans which I am looking forward to playing a key role
in crystallising.”

Chris Leggat, Commercial Director said:  “We are evolving and growing at a rate with which we are comfortable. This development will further strengthen our business and in what will be a dynamic period going forward, will open further commercial arrangements. We
have a clearly defined strategy, monitor it closely and are in line with our short and medium term targets. We will continue to progress and have great fun doing so!”

Cara added: “As we approach our 70th anniversary, we are seeking the step-change which will see us relocate to help us achieve our global growth aspirations. It’s an exciting time at Douglas Laing and this development is the perfect way to celebrate our seven decades in the Whisky industry.”

The all-encompassing site will feature:

  • Urban craft distillery, visitor centre and bar / bistro
  • Bespoke bottling facility
  • Warehousing
  • Head office

The Pacific Quay site is owned by Scottish Enterprise which has appointed Drum Property Group as preferred developers. Planning discussions with Glasgow City Council are advanced.

Cara said: “We are enormously grateful for the support we have received from the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the city council planners in Glasgow.

“The FPMC  package was very important to the project and without it we would not have been able to undertake a project of this scale, so we deeply appreciate the assistance we have received which allows us to drive the development forward and recreate not just a piece of whisky history in Glasgow but a healthy number of new jobs.

“At the same time we shall be providing a top quality, environmentally friendly facility delivering high efficiencies which will result in reduced packaging, less wastage, reduced energy consumption and lower costs allied to CO2 reductions.”

Tags: DistilleryDouglas Laingnew officeScotch Whisky


My name is Greg, and I’m a brand strategy consultant, writer, speaker, host and judge specialising in premium spirits. My mission is to experience, share and inspire with everything great about whisky, whiskey, gin, beer and fine dining through my writing, my brand building and my whisky tastings.

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