A new £22.5 million funding package agreed between Kilchoman Distillery and Barclays will mean the distiller can now concentrate on growing the brand further globally in markets such as France, Germany, the US and China, as well as investing in new production facilities.
The Islay-based distillery, the only farm distillery on the island, will now be able to produce 40% more whisky within the next 12 months and work has already begun on a new warehouse and more staff have joined the company. This brings its headcount to 40.
The new investment will also allow Kilchoman to store thousands more casks of whisky.
Islay Heads, pictured, General Manager at Kilchoman Distillery, and a former banker himself, said, “Filling thousands of barrels of whisky and waiting several years for the spirit to mature is an expensive business. This substantial investment will allow us to invest back in the business, with the construction of a new warehouse already underway and plans in the pipeline that should bring efficiencies and further expansion.
“There are exciting opportunities to grow our brand in countries like France and the US and despite the unsettling economic conditions there remains a growing market for premium whisky brands.
“It has been pleasing to deal with the team at Barclays who were informative about the whisky industry and genuinely interested in the business and our staff. For us it was all about getting the right package in place and developing a long-term relationship. Barclays listened to any points we made and came up with a deal not driven by ticking a box but meeting our needs for a straightforward credit facility to meet our ambitions.”
Andy Hall, Head of Barclays Corporate Banking, Central Scotland, said, “Despite the challenging economic conditions, the production of our national drink remains an expanding industry and we are pleased that Kilchoman is now one of several independent distilleries in Scotland where we are supporting their ambitions for growth in Scotland and beyond.
“Whisky remains a growing market and there is still a huge appetite for single malts, with many people still prepared to pay premium prices.
“Our expertise in this area means that Barclays is ideally placed to offer a range of support to businesses in one of Scotland’s most important sectors. We have a breadth of knowledge and understanding of how varying levels of investment is key to supporting distilleries, where in most cases the whisky produced today will not be available for market for several years.”
Kilchoman is a family business established by Anthony and Kathy Wills in 2005 when the first cask was laid down, and is now supported by their three sons, George, James and Peter. Managing Director, Anthony remains hands-on as Master Distiller while Kathy is head of the Visitor Centre. Their three sons manage the distillery’s sales and marketing activities.
Kilchoman Distillery reported a turnover of c.£7m at its last audited accounts to December 2020.