First female-founded Scotch distillery to open

7th December, 2016 by Amy Hopkins

Scotland is set to welcome what is thought to be the first single malt Scotch whisky distillery established by a woman in more than 200 years.


Heather Nelson is founder and distiller at Toulvaddie Distillery

Toulvaddie Distillery, founded by Heather Nelson, also claims to be the only Scotch malt whisky distillery that has been established solely by a woman.

Based on a disused runway of old naval air field HMS Owl, in Ross-shire, the Scottish Highlands, Toulvaddie Distillery will have an initial capacity to produce 30,000 litres of alcohol a year.

Construction of the distillery has not yet started, but Nelson plans to begin production in 2017.

“It’s great to see so many distilleries being built just now,” said Nelson, who has spent a number of years designing and developing the distillery’s concept. “However these are by men or are also producing gin as a way of making ends meet until the whisky has aged.”

Toulvaddie will not produce any white spirits ahead of the release of its Scotch whisky, but will offer around 100 one-year-old casks.

“There is also a founders club which will receive exclusive bottlings which will never go on general sale from the distillery,” added Nelson. “I will also be releasing a spirit which has a much shorter maturation time which will tie into the history of the site.”

The stills at Toulvaddie are said to be similar in size and shape to those used by illicit whisky makers many years ago.

A date for Toulvaddie Distillery’s completion has not yet been disclosed, but Nelson has received ‘Approval in Principle’ for a distillation licence from HMRC. She established Toulvaddie Distillery Limited in 2015.

The last woman to establish a single malt Scotch distillery was Helen Cumming, who set up Cardhu with her husband, John, in 1811.

For more information on women in whisky, see our article on women who have made spirits history.

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