“The one next to the Lidl”. The Borders distillery is a Tudor Cotswold building constructed by Hawick Urban Electric Company back in 1903, flanked by a couple of sheds dating back to 1888. It’s fair to say the site looks pretty industrial, and definitely lacks the charm of the more traditional purpose built distilleries with their sweeping pagodas but it’s far from unsightly. Featuring exposed rubble walls, wooden sarking and aluminium batons through the mash and still halls and a garage door to the rear where they brought the stills in, it’s fair to say its unconventional but it works and looks pleasantly in step with the area.
The four founders of Three Stills, Tim Carton, John Fordyce, Tony Roberts and George Tait have all held senior positions at William Grant & Sons and they seem to have opted, in part through necessity and preference opted for a very low tech set up. The staff are knowledgeable, all being given on site training which makes for an enjoyable tour with a lot of technical insight. The new make is incredibly pleasant, light, sweet and fruity.
Perhaps the more curious part of the distillery however is the location, none of the founders have any connection to the area and yet the distillery is very much a champion of the region, and local employment. CEO Tim Carton explained to his reasoning to the Spirits Business as an
"opportunity to rebuild the industry and put the Borders, as far as Scotch whisky’s concerned, back on the map". In recent years there seems to have been something of a race to get a Borders distillery set up with the Borders Distilling Company, Mossburn Distillers and the (now delayed/cancelled) R&B distilleries all planned. Three Stills Company got there first.
Putting the borders
"back on the map" might be slightly generous however, as the Borders distillery is the first distillery to operate in the region since 1837 when the only 12 year old Kelso distillery closed its doors for the last time. It’s a shrewd move regardless, as Fordyce notes it’s better to be distillery
"number 1 in the Scottish Borders" as opposed to
"number 70 on Speyside”. Hopefully the borders distillery will have a slightly longer shelf life than it’s predecessor..
|Name||Pronounced||AKA||Region||Country of Origin|
|Status||Active||Whisky Type||Website||Tours Available|
|Active||2018 - Present||Malt||Borders||Tour Link|
|Manager||Distiller||Blender||Owned by||Parent Group|
|Three Stills Company|
1837: Kelso distillery closes after only 12 years of operation, the last in the Borders
2018: At 10.11am on 6 March 2018 the first distillate began to flow, in May the Borders distillery is formally opened