New Steeps Building and Barley Driers

With the expansion of global markets for Scotch whisky, our clients in this sector have had significant demands for additional malted barley from whisky distillers.  This resulted in a commission for a new Steeps Building and Barley Driers for Greencore Malting Group at their Maltings in Buckie, on the Moray Firth in the North East of Scotland

Location:  Buckie
Client: Boortmalt, Buckie Maltings
Cost: £4.5m
Completion: 2010

The original malting process was based on steeping, germination and kilning of each 575 tonne barley batch in a single vessel, with two such vessels available within the site giving an annual production capacity of 35,000 tonnes. This capacity was in practice reduced during the harvest due to the use of the vessels for barley drying prior to storage, and the method of production utilising a single vessel required a large volume of fresh water (giving rise to a correspondingly large volume of effluent) for steeping. By constructing a new steeps building utilising modern stainless steel cylindro-conical steeps with aeration, CO2 extraction and automatic controls, the volume of water and effluent per tonne of barley is greatly reduced, the malt quality is enhanced, and production rises to over 44,000 tonnes per annum. The addition of 3 nr 20 tonnes per hour high-efficiency driers to the site releases malting capacity from the existing vessels and significantly reduces drying costs through greater fuel efficiency. The driers were available for the 2009 harvest and transfer of the first batch to steep was achieved within 12 months of commencing the works on site.

Blyth & Blyth were appointed as overall Project Managers for the development, and as designer for the civil and structural works. Blyth & Blyth also provided assistance with the technical specification for the new steeping plant and with the contractual framework for the main Building Services and Control contracts.

Key challenges

The key challenge on project was the site manufacture and installation of the steep vessels, which were too large to be transported by road and were fabricated from stainless steel plated delivered to site adjacent to the new steeps building. The steep vessels and larger conveyors and elevators were lifted into the building after partial erection of the steel frame, and the building was then completed around the plant and equipment. Despite fabrication in an external environment, the stainless steel steep vessels were fabricated to an exceptionally high standard by Meura.


The new steeps building has been in operation for several years and the additional malt capacity has been achieved without issue. Further modifications are planned to separate kilning from germination to provide a further step increase in malt capacity.