First community-owned distillery opens in Scotland

Scotland’s first community-owned distillery in Dingwall will open today – St Andrews Day – with its construction and production funded by 3,000 members of a crowdfunding website.

The GlenWyvis distillery near Dingwall, in the Scottish Highlands

The opening of the GlenWyvis distillery near Dingwall, in the Highlands, marks a return to the area for whisky production for the first time in 90 years, following the closure of the town’s original distilleries – Ferintosh, Ben Wyvis and Glenskiach.

The project was the idea of farmer and helicopter pilot John McKenzie, who envisioned a distillery that was “100% community-owned” and “100% powered by green energy”.

“From the outset we have envisaged the project as much more than a distillery,” said GlenWyvis managing director and founder, John McKenzie.

“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.”

In 2016, the first share offer in GlenWyvis Distillery Limited raised a total of £2.6 million from some 2,200 investors towards anticipated costs of £3.8 million. The project is now crowdfunding for its second share offer with a target of £750,000, So far £340,000 has been donated by a further 600 members.

Chairman 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.”

Gin will also to be produced at the site, which gets its power from a renewable energy project, from next year, with the distillery becoming one of only a handful of Scottish distilleries that produce both spirits.

Duncan Tait will head up the operation as distillery manager of GlenWyvis.

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