The Kythe Distillery, which takes its name from a Scots Gaelic word meaning to prove or demonstrate, is currently under development and is set to start whisky production in late 2024. It expects to produce 50,000 litres of alcohol (lpa) per year, enough to fill around 250 casks.
It was founded by whisky professionals and enthusiasts Jonny McMillan, Aaron Chan and Angus MacRaild, who says it will make an "old-style, truly traditional" Highland Scotch whisky. Supporters of the project include Ronnie Cox from Berry Bros & Rudd, a whisky industry veteran of 45 years who will serve as Kythe's brand director emeritus.
The distillery team plan to work with local farmers to source heritage and brewing varieties of barley. Distillery equipment will include a one-tonne mash tun, seven wooden washbacks (designed to facilitate regular fermentations of two weeks or more), plus a wood-fired wash still and an electrically heated spirit still. both with worm tub condensers. The use of wood firing – using sustainably sourced and air-dried logs – means Kythe's carbon emissions will be approximately 94 per cent lower than a similarly sized distillery operating with kerosene boilers.
MacRaild said: "While I have often been critical of contemporary Scotch whisky's quality and direction, I don't believe in simply being critical. I have always wanted to make whisky, to put my ideas into practice, put my money where my mouth is, and to create a charismatic and very specifically 'old-style' single malt. In my view, efficiency is the enemy of character when it comes to Scottish single malts, and with Kythe we can start to test this and be part of a growing movement that is changing the direction of Scottish single malt whisky for the better."
Chan, who is leading a consortium of whisky drinkers in Hong Kong who have backed the distillery, said: "Over the past 10 years, Hong Kong’s whisky fans have been catching up very fast when it comes to Scotch whisky culture. We have started specialised whisky bars, whisky retailers, importers, exporters and independent bottlers. The final piece of the puzzle is for us to help create a whisky distillery in Scotland – Kythe is that distillery."
Kythe Distillery is also offering cask investment and purchasing opportunities for private individuals and some independent bottlers. More details of this can be found at kythedistillery.com.