Bunnahabhain Distillery & Visitor Centre

The Bunnahabhain Visitor Centre has been constructed as the first part of an overall upgrade of the distillery site.
Blyth & Blyth were the Civil & Structural and Building Services Engineers on the project, supporting Avison Young as Architect
and Lead Consultant.

Location: Islay
Client: Distell International Ltd.
Cost: £1.55m
Completion: 2019

The project involved the demolition of a number of warehouses at the entrance of the site, to clear space for the new Visitor Centre, and to create a more open and green public realm space to improve the experience for visitors and to open up the view across to Jura.

The new Visitor Centre is located on the site of the warehouse that is closest to the sea. It was positioned to allow the re-use of the warehouse retaining wall to support a cantilever balcony spanning out over the beach to maximise the views.

The single storey building was constructed in timber, utilising raised tie timber portal frames to provide stability.

The Visitor Centre was designed to accommodate a café, retail space, visitor experience and tasting space. As part of the works, a new car park was also constructed opposite the Visitor Centre.

Key challenges

One of the key aspects of the design was the cantilever balcony leading out from the café. In order to enhance the view and experience, it was important to ensure a level threshold from the café on to the balcony and that the balustrade did not obstruct but frame the view. The balcony was constructed in concrete utilising the building foundations as counterbalance and the old warehouse retaining wall as a prop. To providea seamless balustrade, a stainless steel handrail system was used with glass infills.

A great deal of thought was put into minimising the environmental impact of demolishing the old warehouse and creating the new Visitor Centre. All the rubble was crushed and graded and re-used under roads and the car park to minimise imported material with the excess transported to nearby sites for re-use as capping layers.


A welcoming visitor centre and café in keeping with the local architecture and natural beauty of the area, that offers a traditional distillery experience with unrivalled views across to Jura.