Bladnoch Distillery sold to Australian businessman

Bladnoch Distillery has been sold to a new owner who plans to have the country’s most southern spirit flowing again by the end of next year.

Confirmation came this week that the deal had been signed between Australian entrepreneur David Prior and the distillery’s creditors who had been marketing the business since they took it over last March.

Substantial new investment is planned leading to the return of distilling in Galloway after six years. The new company, Bladnoch Distillery Limited, is headed by 45-year-old Mr Prior and supported by non-executive director Gavin Hewitt, former chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association.

A statement said this week that the existing eight warehouses, administrative and visitor centre staff will be retained and new jobs will be created giving a boost to local employment.

The statement added: “Substantial investment needs to be made in the production facilities, meeting the industry’s highest environmental standards, before the spirit flows again from the stills.”

Mr Prior, who is married with one daughter, made his fortune in the family’s food packaging company Baroda until selling it in 2007. He founded five:am, an organic yoghurt and granola business in 2009 before it sold to PZ Cussons in 2014 for £52m.

He said on completion of the purchase: “I am delighted to have been able to purchase a Scotch whisky distillery of such renown as Bladnoch. Scotch whisky is the world’s foremost spirit drink and I am proud to be part of the industry.”

Gavin Hewitt added: “It is wonderful to see one of Scotland’s oldest distilleries revived. I’m excited to be on the team which will breathe new life into Bladnoch and provide a stimulus for the local economy.”

First established in 1817, the distillery was latterly owned by the Armsrtong family until administrators Ernst and Young (EY) took over last year.

Luke Charleton, EY said: “The distillery continued to trade ‘business as usual’ under my direction, while a purchaser was sought for the business and assets on a going concern basis. I would like to thank employees of the distillery for their support and professionalism during the liquidation process. I’d also like to thank the customers and suppliers for their support and the Insolvency Service Northern Ireland for its commercial approach.”

Luke continued: “There was a tremendous level of interest from domestic and international investors in this distillery. It is particularly pleasing to have sold the distillery to a buyer with a clear growth strategy. I wish Bladnoch Distillery Limited and its employees the best for the future.”