Lochlea was a cattle farm when originally acquired in 2006. But extending some 222 acres something needed to change for the farm of that size to be viable.
Barley had historically been grown on the farm land, largely as livestock feed, so in 2015 the team embarked on an experiment, growing 50 acres of malting barley.
Working away quietly, learning from the (not too frequent) mistakes, exploring the possibilities and making contacts in the malting industry gave the confidence to make a big decision: develop and operate a single malt distillery at Lochlea.
Construction got underway in 2017, converting the former piggery, byre and midden in the heart of the farm steading into the distillery, and repurposing the cattle sheds into bonded warehouses. The licences were secured in 2018, and the distillery was commissioned in August 2018.
The resulting Lochlea Distillery is an independent single malt distillery based on Lochlea Farm in the heart of Ayrshire. Led by renowned ex-Laphroaig distillery manager John Campbell, the family-run farm grows and harvests its own barley, ensuring full traceability from field to bottle – the only production step not currently carried out on the farm is malting, although this will probably soon be done on site as well.
Historically Lochlea is the only distillery where Robert Burns actually lived and worked on the farm from 1777 to 1784.