Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum on Islay

Ben Inglis at Islay's new rum distillery.

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A new rum distillery is rising from the ashes of a former lemonade factory and depot on Islay.

The former Hastie’s Lemonade Factory and Dunn’s Depot at Port Ellen closed in June 2016 but now has been transformed after standing vacant for years.

Islay Spirits, a subsidiary of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, has entered into a joint venture with Islay start-up High Road Rum Company, run by Ben Inglis.

Under the plan, Mr Inglis would run the business, having developed his own unique rum recipe and is a keen student of rum production.

Andrew Crook, managing director of the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, said: ‘Islay is the spiritual home of our company and we owe our success in a large part to the land and its people.

‘We now have an opportunity to put some investment back into the island and we hope that the community will enjoy seeing a business emerge and hopefully develop over the years.’

Planning permission for the refurbishment was granted in January 2020 and has been undertaken by a new building company run by Scott Hastie – grandson and great nephew of the factory’s original owners.

Work is nearly completed with the site transformed from ‘near dereliction’ to a great modern workspace, said the Vintage Malt Whisky Company, which praised the construction team and tradesmen for their work.

Mr Crook added: ‘We still have a long journey ahead but we are delighted to be working with Ben and Scott and are encouraged by all the informal support and help we and they have had along the way.’

The still for the distillery is on order and other equipment is currently being sourced.

The project will initially be funded by Vintage Malt, which will also provide back office and sales and marketing support.