THE OLD LEMONADE FACTORY
This elegant, art deco style building in Port Ellen was built in 1955 by Harold Hastie and has a long and notable history. It was home to Hastie's Lemonade Factory which was described at the time as a “praiseworthy example of a successful rural industry which owes its origin to local imagination and initiative”.
Before the factory’s existence on the island, local shopkeepers had to be supplied soft drinks from the mainland – their entire summer order had to be placed in bulk which was a huge gamble – if the summer was hot they ran out, if the summer not so good then they were left with surplus stock and a financial loss.
Harold Hastie saw the opportunity to build a business, he says “It seemed to us that there was an opportunity for a local industry. There was a need there and we decided to meet that need”. Hastie’s had an inauspicious start in a disused army hut, but when the business took off, The Old Lemonade Factory was born. The site was chosen because of its proximity to one of the island’s sweetest springs.
Hastie’s was a huge success and eventually not only supplied Islay but Jura and Colonsay, producing about 15,000 gallons of lemonade a year. Although the factory produced a variety of soft drinks, lemonade was the most popular. Donald Hastie, Harold’s brother used to say “it mixes better with the whisky”!
With the introduction of canned soft drinks and better transport links to the mainland, the lemonade production slowly declined and the factory became a distribution centre for popular soft drinks.
The closure of the factory was a sad day for the island and it lay empty and became virtually derelict much to the sadness of the island community.
However, in 2018 the factory was bought by The Islay Spirits Company, who along with local distiller Ben Inglis, had a dream to create the first ever rum distillery on Islay. They set about restoring the factory using local builders - Hastie Construction (Harold’s grandson, Scott) and the renovation was completed by autumn 2021.
So, The Old Lemonade Factory has come full circle to be, once again, a praiseworthy example of a successful rural industry - The Islay Rum Distillery and the creation of the first ever Islay Rum!
Source: The Ileach Newspaper 2018