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Ardgowan Distillery appoints two new figures

The Ardgowan Distillery, which is developing a new lowland malt whisky distillery by Inverkip, has announced the appointment of two leading industry figures.

Former Bruichladdich and Springbank director Gordon Wright joined as advisor on commercial development and sales; while global distilling expert Professor Michael Egan will review the new plant’s process engineering design.

The new distillery and visitor centre, which will be located on the historic Ardgowan Estate, is currently in planning, with a decision expected by Inverclyde Council in the coming weeks.

The new team members follow the recent appointment of former Macallan MD Willie Phillips as company chairman.

Martin McAdam, Ardgowan chief executive, says: “These new signings give us tremendous strength in two key areas. Michael brings cutting-edge expertise in distillery process design, whilst Gordon has a stellar track record in building export sales for niche whisky brands. Together they can help us make and market an outstanding and exclusive new lowland single malt whisky.”

While at Springbank Distillery in Campbeltown, Gordon Wright helped bring the family-owned malt whisky to a global audience, creating export sales of £1.4m in just four years.

Wright joined Bruichladdich Distillery in 2000 and helped raise the equity to purchase the company from JBB. As marketing director at Bruichladdich he established a worldwide network of distributors for the Islay malt, and was part of the team that achieved the Whisky Magazine’s Innovator of the Year 2003/4. Gordon has subsequently created the Alchemist brand, focusing on creating unique spirits and delivering them to 15 international markets.

Chemical engineer professor Michael Egan began his career in Canada with the Hiram Walker Group, famous for their Canadian Club whisky, and cut his teeth working at distilleries in Illinois and Ontario.

Professor Egan joined Irish Distillers as process engineer for the design of the new distillery in Midleton, modernising the methods of pot still heating, energy recovery and dis-entrainment, prior to completing his PhD on extractive distillation. In 1983 he was seconded to Guinness Brewery to head up the redevelopment of the brewery at St. James’s Gate, Dublin. He worked with Guinness for 10 years as director of brewery redevelopment and completed the £200million project on time and budget.

Professor Egan has also worked as an independent consultant and designed, among other projects, Teeling’s first Irish Whiskey distillery at Cooley, Co. Louth.

Commenting on the appointments, company chairman Willie Phillips says: “I have known both Gordon and Michael for some time and together we share a passion for single malt whisky. This passion, allied to their intimate knowledge and experience of the design, manufacture and marketing of top-drawer spirits gives me confidence we will create a new lowland malt of great character.”

4 March 2017 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, news editor