That’s the spirit: Scots firms to build Mongolian distillery

David Valentine

A Chinese firm with ambitions of producing a whisky that is globally recognised as one of the best has turned to two Scottish companies for the build of a £2.5 million distillery in Mongolia.

“The design of the distillery will have Scottish architectural characteristics about it, because everything about this distillery is about its connection with Scotland. So when visitors go to the distillery, we want them to have a Scottish feel about it,” David Valentine, of Valentine International Business Connections, told Project Scotland.

The Forfar-based firm will manage the overall project-build of the distillery, having contracted Rothes whisky still maker Forsyths to construct the modular build.

“MengTai (the firm behind the distillery) has got great aspirations, and that’s also what drove me to recommend Forsyths because if you’re going to produce the best whisky, then you need to start with the best equipment. It’s very much about the quality of the distils stills themselves, the way they’re made and the quality of the basic materials,” David added.

He continued by telling of how Forsyths has completed over 300 projects worldwide, has a dedicated team of engineers in Hong Kong and will be able to incorporate a computer control system in the distillery which will allow the firm to take control from its Rothes office, should any problems arise.

The distillery will be constructed entirely in Scotland. David told of how it will be assembled in the country and tested, before being dissembled, put on skids and transported to Mongolia. This, he said, will ‘significantly’ lessen the time required to build the structure in Mongolia. “Instead of taking 10 or 12 engineers 12 weeks to build, it’ll take maybe two or three engineers two or three days to build up,” David explained. “It will also save them a lot of money, and is going to give them confidence from a health, safety and production point of view that it’s all in working order and ready to go once it gets there.”

Of course, given the current circumstances, delays have hit the project. David said that four months in total have been lost, due to Covid-19 hitting China first. He explained how MengTai has the 34th largest coal concern in China and also produces large amounts of aluminium, therefore talks were put on pause while the firm adjusted to the lockdown regulations in China. However, the final part of negotiations were able to be secured as both China and Europe adjusted to the ‘new normal’.

Richard Lin Lu, a senior UK-based representative of MengTai said, “Despite the difficulties in these novel and trying times, we are working closely with Forsyths to avoid delay caused by the virus. We have so much to learn from the Scottish whisky industry – the cultural and historic “Home of Whisky’. So, we hope not just to bring the best Scotch Whisky production and technology to China, we also aim to bring Scotland’s profound and unique whisky culture to the Chinese consumer, especially the younger generation.”

David has set a target for the distillery being in production by October 2021, providing restrictions continue easing. Operatives from the distillery will be taken to Scotland to learn about the operational process of the distillery, before the MengTai group sets out to achieve its lofty ambitions of producing a world renown whisky.