A NEW distillery on land once farmed by Robert Burns is close to bottling its first whisky.

Lochlea Distillery, based at Lochlea Farm, near Mauchline, is a project seven years in the making.

Planning on the £6million distillery began in 2014, with production of the liquid starting in August 2018, with the first casks filled and placed in their on-site warehouse.

The farm is still active, with barley being grown, on the same site where in 1777 an 18-year-old Robert Burns arrived to work until he left there in 1784.

The Lochlea Distillery team has been working on creating a truly distinct whisky under the watchful eye of distillery manager and industry authority, Malcolm Rennie.

With 34 years in the whisky industry, Malcolm cut his teeth on Kilchoman, Bruichladdich and Ardbeg but sees Lochlea Whisky as the result of his life’s work.

Commenting on the news, Malcolm said: “Ensuring full traceability from field to cask is vital for us.

“We grow and harvest our own barley on Lochlea farm with the resulting draff used to feed local cattle and the water is sourced on-site.

“We’ve been able to take advantage of Ayrshire’s natural resources and in doing so it keeps our carbon footprint to a minimum.”

Ayrshire local and Lochlea Whisky commercial manager, David Ferguson, said: “Lochlea Whisky will carve out its own unique place in the industry.

“The new make spirit is bursting with orchard fruit and has a beautiful elegance way beyond its years.

“Lochlea Farm is deeply rooted in Scottish history and is known for being the home and work place of Robert Burns from 1777 to 1784.

“Burns is known for his honest, passionate and progressive nature and this has inspired some of Lochlea Distillery’s core values.”

The first bottling is expected in late 2021.