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Cabrach Trust gains £3.5m for whisky distillery

The Cabrach Trust has secured a multi-million-pound investment to begin building a Scotch whisky distillery in Moray.

The Cabrach Trust's Scotch whisky distillery
An artists’ impression of The Cabrach Trust’s Scotch whisky distillery

The distillery will be located in Cabrach on the southern edge of Moray, said to be one of the birthplaces of the Scotch whisky industry and famed for illicit stills and smuggling.

The distillery and heritage centre received planning permission in September 2017 and were due to begin work on the site in 2018 after securing £310,000 (US$434,240) in funding.

Now the project has taken a ‘significant step forward’ after gaining £3.5m (US$4.6m) in funding, with construction expected to start in February 2022. The site is due to be operational by spring 2023.

Cabrach was said to once have more than a 1,000 residents and many rebellious Jacobites, illicit distillers and smugglers. However, wars led to a decline in the population, with fewer than 100 people residing in the area today.

The Cabrach Trust aims to regenerate the area as a sustainable community.

As part of the project, a 19th-century steading at the trust’s Inverharroch base will be repaired through a restoration programme that will incorporate a renewable energy source.

The distillery and traditional dunnage warehouse will occupy two wings of the steading, with the additional two wings used for the heritage centre, community bistro, tasting room and visitor reception.

Operated as a social enterprise, the distillery will use ‘historic methods’ that reflect the production of malt whisky from the 1800s when ‘real Cabrach whisky’ was widely commended, The Cabrach Trust said.

Jonathan Christie, chief executive of The Cabrach Trust, said: “With the build commencing early in the new year, we look forward to sharing progress as our one-of-a-kind social enterprise unfolds, whilst launching several other exciting projects all poised to go live in 2022.”

The Ethos Foundation, a main funder of The Cabrach Trust, has pledged its support to the project, alongside capital grants from the William Grant Foundation and the Vattenfall Clashindarroch Wind Farm Community Fund.

Distilling equipment provider Forsyths is also one of the project’s backers, while the Bently Foundation gave a significant grant to the scheme in 2021.

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