GlenWyvis Distillery, based in the historic town of Dingwall in the Scottish Highlands, is today celebrating the official opening of what is believed to be the world’s first 100 per cent community-owned whisky distillery.
The landmark event on St Andrew’s Day follows a highly-successful crowdfunding campaign and a two-year push to build a distillery that is not only community-owned but also 100 per cent powered by renewable energy.
The community opening will turn the spotlight of the whisky world on Dingwall and will be attended by invited guests from the local community and some of the 3,000-plus members of the GlenWyvis Distillery Community Benefit Society. One lucky member will be been selected by ballot to ‘cut the tape’ in the stillhouse to mark the occasion.
The new distillery will re-instate the iconic craft of whisky distilling* back into the area, years after the last local distillery closed. It will be a truly historic moment for GlenWyvis and the town of Dingwall.
The journey began with the GlenWyvis launching a highly successful community share offer in 2016 – raising £2.6 million to support its vision for the future. The project has since developed well beyond the greenfield site, to a fully built distillery with its first master distiller and support staff all set for the first run of spirit.
With whisky production beginning, the GlenWyvis team has been working around the clock to prepare the distillery for the official opening on St Andrew’s Day and also to bring the distillation of GlenWyvis gin home to Dingwall in early 2018. This will mark the next exciting phase and establish GlenWyvis as one of a select number of dual whisky and gin distilleries in Scotland.
GlenWyvis managing director and founder, John McKenzie, commented: “From the outset, we have envisaged the project as much more than a distillery. We recognised this was an opportunity for all social investors to help reinvigorate the town of Dingwall and build on our whisky heritage* through community-ownership.
“We have undertaken a massive outreach programme to build interest and investment in the project both locally and further afield. Our aim has always been to produce both high-quality Scottish whisky and craft gin – and to attract more visitors to the area.
“We are exploring options for distillery tours and a proposed GlenWyvis visitor experience that will help to benefit the community and develop Dingwall into a leading craft distillery town in Scotland, and a quality destination on the North Coast 500 tourist route.”
GlenWyvis, chair, David O’Connor, added: “We are now all set to move from commissioning to whisky production, and we are all extremely proud that this ambitious two-year project has reached the stage of the official opening today.
“This is a remarkable community project and the support has been overwhelming. With our second open share offer still ongoing, we have now raised over £3 million in a very short time and I believe that is a testament to the enduring appeal of Scottish whisky.
“Over 60 per cent of our members come from the local Highland area, and we’re using barley sourced from the local farmers’ co-op, Highland Grain. I’m immensely proud of the entire GlenWyvis team and we are all thrilled to be officially opening the distillery on St Andrew’s Day.”
The newly-appointed master distiller, Duncan Tait, will oversee final commissioning and the first run of the new spirit, and is inspired by the unique possibilities this creates.
Duncan added: “To join a brand-new distillery and shape the flavour profiles of a new single malt from the start is a dream come true. The opening event marks the start of the next stage of this truly inspirational project. After today, we get down to the hard work of distilling a whisky that will put GlenWyvis and Dingwall on the international spirit map.”