Builders have broken ground on the first whisky distillery on the Scottish island of Harris, with work set to finish early next year.

Isle of Harris Distillery said yesterday (5 March) it has raised the required GBP10m (US$16.7m) to begin construction, and obtained building and production permission. Building work on the distillery is expected to be completed in the first quarter of next year.

About one-tenth of the project, which claims it will bring 20 jobs to the remote Outer Hebridean island, has been funded by a local government initiative, with the rest coming from 17 private investors.

Simon Erlanger, Isle of Harris Distillery's director, said: “We are building the ‘social distillery’ for the island and people of Harris. We will create sustainable employment and economic growth and optimism for the people of Harris.”

The distillery, plans for which were revealed in 2012, will produce The Hearach single malt Scotch and a Harris gin. Capacity is expected to be 300,000 bottles a year.