Community to create a one-of-a-kind distillery in reputed ‘birthplace of malt whisky’

Community to create a one-of-a-kind distillery in reputed ‘birthplace of malt whisky’

A £5 million community-led project to create a new distillery in an area regarded as a birthplace of Scotland’s national drink has secured up to £0.5m investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Cabrach is the most rural area of Moray. This hauntingly beautiful area was once a self-sustaining upland settlement. Famed for its long and colourful whisky distilling history, the Cabrach was once a legendary haunt of illicit distillers and smugglers. At the turn of the 20th century the area was home to a population of over 1000, today that number is less than 100.

Formed in 2013, The Cabrach Trust’s vision is to regenerate the area as a thriving, sustainable community. The charity has developed a strategic masterplan to deliver significant job creation, attract new visitors, and celebrate the cultural heritage, landscape and history of the Cabrach.

The HIE funding will be used to help cover the costs of construction works on the extensive refurbishment of farm steading buildings at Inverharroch Farm, which was acquired by the trust in 2013.

The refurbished 19th century steading will become home of The Cabrach Distillery and will produce a unique heritage-led Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Within eight years it is forecast to have an annual turnover of almost £3.4m and provide employment for 12.5 full time equivalent posts, as well as 50 volunteering opportunities.

Community to create a one-of-a-kind distillery in reputed ‘birthplace of malt whisky’

Operating as a social enterprise, all surplus profits from the venture will be reinvested for the benefit of the community.

Fiona Robb, head of strengthening communities with HIE’s team in Moray, said: “This project represents a significant third sector project in Moray’s most rural area, where population has declined significantly. Tapping into local heritage it seeks to use this to attract and retain new talent.

“In addition to production, turnover and sales, the venture will contribute to community regeneration with significant social benefits and low carbon credentials. It will support new employment, alongside a sustained commitment to providing training and education.

“It will also enhance the region’s appeal to visitors and its reputation for quality food and drink production. I’m delighted we’ve been able to provide support and look forward to continuing to work with the Trust as they develop the venture.”

Jonathan Christie, chief executive officer of The Cabrach Trust, added: “This incredible investment from Highlands and Islands Enterprise is central to realising The Cabrach Distillery – a project which will serve as the lungs of our long-term, transformational regeneration strategy for this important place.

“Beyond vital funding, the trust is excited to work alongside HIE as we deliver what we collectively believe has the potential to become an exemplar of community-led, rural regeneration in action.”

The project has also secured £361,767 from the Scottish Government Just Transition Fund.

Beyond the distillery, an innovative community learning, rural skills, and wellbeing programme forms an important part of the trust’s work. This is further complemented by the completion of a brand-new all-abilities Discovery Trail, creation of a new Cabrach Tweed, and resurrection of the long lost Cabrach Picnic and Games.

Share icon
Share this article: