Master distiller James MacTaggart and Euan Mitchell, managing director of the Isle of Arran Distillery, on the site of the new distillery
Master distiller James MacTaggart and Euan Mitchell, managing director of the Isle of Arran Distillery, on the site of the new distillery

Your poetry could take you to the Isle of Arran

The clock is ticking until the opening of award-winning whisky producer Isle of Arran Distillers’ new facility in Lagg – and you could be there on the big day!

Isle of Arran Distillers has teamed up with Scottish Field to find the official poem for their new Lagg Distillery. The winning entry will take pride of place onsite within the Lagg Visitor Centre which is due to open next spring.

Budding writers have been tasked to produce a poem that beautifully captures the Isle of Arran’s history, landscape or, quite simply, i’s spirit – whisky or otherwise. The closing date for entries is Friday 14 December and the winner and two runners up will be announced on Burns Night, Friday 25 January 2019.

As well as having their poem immortalised at the Lagg Distillery, the winning entry will be exclusively published in Scottish Field magazine, the official media partner for the competition.

The winning poet will also be invited to the official opening of the new Lagg Distillery & Visitor Centre in Spring of next year. Two runners-up will receive an exclusive Lagg Distillery goodie bag.

The Isle of Arran Distillery have assembled an expert judging panel that will mull over each entry. Judges include Hamish Whyte, honorary research fellow in the Department of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University, Jim Carruth, Poet Laureate of Glasgow since 2014, Rachel McCormack, a chef, whisky writer and author of ‘Chasing the Dram’, Kenny Smith, web editor at Scottish Field, Graham Omand, the Lagg Distillery manager, and Faye Waterlow, the Lagg visitor centre manager.

Work on the new distillery is proceeding apace, to the delight of master distiller James MacTaggart who said: ‘I don’t see any challenges these days – when you get to my age, you only see solutions. Creating the new distillery hasn’t really brought any new challenges, as we’ve been here before.

Master distiller James MacTaggart and Euan Mitchell, managing director of the Isle of Arran Distillery, on the site of the new distillery

‘Two years ago, there was a major upgrade in Lochranza, so what’s happening at Lagg is fairly similar, to a certain degree. I’ve been involved in the planning side when it came to deciding the shape of the stills. However, my interior design skills are not that great, I’m afraid, so I’ll just leave that to the professionals! We have quantity surveyors and someone else supervising the building. It’s very exciting for me, having this second installation.’

‘In fact, it’s an exciting time for us all, as there’s so much happening just now. We’ve got to keep the distillery in Lochranza running, and there’s always lots of things to be doing, as we’re very busy as a company.’

There’s also a fantastic opportunity to get a memento from the distillery opening as James is releasing for purchase 700 casks from the first production to be filled at the new distillery. These bourbon casks will contain approximately 280* 70cl bottles-worth of a new, heavily-peated (50ppm) Single Malt that will be the style of whisky produced at the Lagg Distillery.

Each of casks, priced at £6000, will remain at the distillery for a minimum of 10 years of maturation under the careful eye of the Lagg Distillery team. The casks’ owners will then have the opportunity to bottle the spirit, complete with a limited-edition Lagg Cask society label, or pay an annual fee to continue the maturation process until the desired age is attained. No further casks will be made available for sale to the public during the first 10 years of production at Lagg.

Every cask owner will also become a member of the exclusive Lagg Cask Society. Membership guarantees a bottle from the very first cask to be filled at Lagg which is reserved exclusively for the Society. In addition, each member will have their name displayed on the Lagg ‘Wall of Fame’ and receive an invite to the Lagg Cask Society Members Day for a first-look of the distillery and visitor centre before its official opening in spring 2019. Additional benefits include a free stay at the historic Lagg Hotel, a 12-month Arran golf pass, complimentary tours of Lagg and 10% off all purchases in the visitor centre for 10 years.

Stills arriving at the new Isle of Arran Lagg Distillery

James explained: ‘We have incredibly exciting plans for the Lagg Distillery, and the Lagg Cask Society offers people the chance to be part of the journey from the very beginning. To own one of the first casks from a distillery is a rare opportunity indeed and with my years of experience in the industry I firmly believe the Lagg Single Malt will mature into something truly magical.’

Euan Mitchell, managing director of the Isle of Arran Distillery, added: ‘The Lagg Cask Society is the next chapter of the story of malt whisky on Arran. Their casks will be the first to be filled on the south of the island in over 170 years – a continuation of a long and proud heritage of whisky making on Arran. In releasing these casks, we are inviting people to join the Arran family and lay down an exclusive Lagg dram that they can call their own for a fee in line with prices currently being paid for individual bottles of rare Single Malt. Bottles from the Lagg Cask Society barrels will provide unique opportunities for gifts and investment, the ideal present to lay down for future generations, as well as the simple enjoyment of sampling the finest of spirits.’

Further information on how to purchase a cask, as well as all of the benefits involved, can be found at or by contacting directly.

James concluded: ‘I’ve been here for 11 years now, and I’ve seen huge changes. When I first arrived, the visitor centre was lucky if it had 40,000 visitors in a year, and last year we welcomed over 110,000. I’ve built four new warehouses, and there was a £1.2million upgrade to the distillery itself. There’s been new offices and rooms, which was a huge investment for Arran.

‘It’s very important we invest on Arran itself, and that’s why we’re building new warehouses at Lagg. If you have everything stored in the one area, that makes things a lot easier if you are selecting casks for bottlings.’

An artist’s impression of the new Lagg Distillery visitor centre interior

The new distillery and visitor centre at Lagg is expected to open in spring 2019 with total visitor numbers to both distillery sites expected to exceed 200,000 by 2020.

To be in with the chance of being there at the opening of the Lagg Distillery and Visitor Centre, simply enter our poetry competition!

All entries can be submitted to Scottish Field magazine by email to with the subject ‘Isle of Arran Distillers – Poetry Competition’. Entrants will also need to include in their name, contact information and date of birth as this competition is only open to those over the age of 18. All entries must be original work and not have been published anywhere else before.

Poems can also be submitted by post using the following address: Isle of Arran Distillers – Poetry Competition, Scottish Field, 496 Ferry Road, Edinburgh, EH5 2DL. Please within your entry letter your name, your contact information and your date of birth.

Scottish Field is part of Wyvex Media Limited. By entering this competition, you agree to Wyvex Media (or the third party company above) contacting you if you are a winner or contacting you about their products and services. If you do not wish to be contacted, you should not enter this/these competitions. Your information will be kept for a period of three months after the competition closes, after which it will be destroyed, unless you agree an extension to be contacted further with Wyvex Media or the third-party company.