BOSSES behind a new malt whisky distillery in Inverkip are toasting a major £1 million funding boost.

The Ardgowan Distillery development has taken another big step forward thanks to a grant from the Scottish Government.

Yesterday, the cabinet secretary for rural economy and connectivity, Fergus Ewing, announced that the lowland malt whisky facility on the grounds on Ardgowan Estate in Inverkip is to receive £982,000 to help get it up and running.

The cash, from the government’s food processing, marketing and co-operation grant scheme, will provide providing vital funding towards construction costs for the distillery and an accompanying visitor centre.

Building work is expected to start next year, with bosses aiming to have a ‘world-leading’ product ready by 2020.

Martin McAdam, chief executive of Ardgowan Distillery said: “We are extremely grateful to the Scottish Government for their generous support, and to all others who have backed the project so far, especially the local community for their enthusiasm and encouragement.

“The Scotch whisky industry supports over 40,000 jobs in Scotland, and is a vital component of Scotland’s ambitious food and drink growth strategy.

“This £12m project will move Inverclyde up the rankings for food and drink production in Scotland.

“During construction, the project will support 35 jobs and contribute over £2m to the local economy.”

Once up and running, the distillery will create six new full-time jobs, with up to 15 additional positions in the visitor centre and retail operations, with around 47 further jobs created in the wider economy during the first five years.

The project has already received full planning consent from Inverclyde Council and will transform a former sawmill on estate land in the village.

Earlier this year, Ardgowan chiefs appointed industry veteran Willie Phillips, who spearheaded the Macallan malt whisky distillery for 18 years, as chairman of the business.

Former Bruichladdich and Springbank director Gordon Wright has also been appointed as an advisor on commercial development and sales whilst global distilling expert, Professor Michael Eagan, will review the new plant’s process engineering design.

The Inverkip facility will resurrect the name of Greenock’s Ardgowan Distillery, which was founded in 1896 and located in Baker Street.

After a few years of whisky production, the site was used to make grain spirit and industrial alcohol until it was destroyed in the May Blitz of 1941.