WORK to establish two new distilleries is underway in Lochaber and Skye in the Scottish Highlands.
Multi-million pound projects at Drimnin Distillery on the Morvern Peninsula and Torabhaig Distillery in the south of Skye attracted a total of £881,000 investment from development agency, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
The projects are expected to meet market demands for high-quality malt whisky, in the UK and overseas, and deliver a range of economic and social benefits locally. These include the creation of new, year-round jobs and increased visitor numbers at both locations.
The new distillery at Drimnin attracted investment of £168,709 from HIE and up to £431,291 through the Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation grant scheme.
An old farm steading on Drimnin Estate is being converted into the distillery. It will produce a single malt whisky using a blend of traditional and modern techniques, with production due to start early in 2017. Up to eight new jobs are expected to be created through this project, with further employment indirectly through its construction, future supply chain and tourism.
CEO, Annabel Thomas, said: “After several years in the planning, it is hugely exciting to see the new distillery starting, literally, to take shape. Interest in small, quality spirit producers and single malt whisky continues to grow and we are looking forward to offering something a little bit different to consumers around the world.
“It has been critical from the earliest planning stages that the new distillery is sustainable, both socially and environmentally. The social benefits include attracting more visitors to the area, boosting the resident population and providing well paid, skilled jobs in rural Scotland.
“Our investment will create a process that works with nature in this beautiful location – local timber will generate heat for the distillery and by-products will be used as feed and fertiliser on local farms.”
Meanwhile, HIE approved £712,615 towards the Torabhaig Distillery development on Skye. This will create 12 new jobs when it opens later this year as well as several other indirect posts and others created during the current construction phase.
It will produce around 1.5million bottles of malt whisky per annum and is set to attract up to 50,000 visitors a year to the state-of-the-art visitor and interpretation centre.
Torabhaig Distillery was set up by Mossburn Distillers Ltd which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the international investment group Haydn Holdings AB. The new flagship distillery will also act as a springboard for future inward investment in other distilling operations including bottling and warehousing in the Scottish Borders.
Finlay Calder, projects director at Mossburn Distillers, said: “We are delighted with progress at Torabhaig Distillery and look forward to the first spirit being distilled soon.
“Restoration work on the 19th century steading buildings that house the distillery and visitor centre has been carried out, creating a modern and functional facility fit for the 21st century. We are very proud of it.”
HIE supports businesses to realise their growth aspirations in priority sectors like food and drink and tourism as well as supporting strong communities.
Helen Cameron, of HIE’s business growth team, said: “Both distilleries will generate significant international sales and add further diversity to the Scottish malt whisky sector’s impressive reputation.
“Each of them has strong craft, culture and heritage aspects and the addition of tourism facilities will help attract more visitors and encourage longer stays. The distilleries will also enhance the appeal of the Highlands and Islands as a place to live and work, which helps strengthen community resilience.”
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