Gordon & MacPhail’s new Speyside distillery given the go ahead

Independent bottler and whisky distiller Gordon & MacPhail has got the green light to construct a new distillery and visitor centre in the Cairngorms National Park, which will be capable of producing two million litres of spirit a year.

Given approval last Friday (11 October) by the Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), the project includes plans for a distillery, visitor centre, café, retail area, warehouse and associated infrastructure.

Located just off the A95 in the outskirts of Grantown-on-Spey, Gordon & MacPhail’s new facility will be capable of producing two million litres of spirit, the equivalent of 100,000 cases of whisky a year, generating £23 million per annum.

The plans also include a “water abstraction pipeline” to be built on a piece of land on the other side of the A95.

Katherine Donnachie, planning officer at the CNPA, said “The main planning issue to consider in terms of a new distillery in the countryside is whether the principle of development in a rural location is acceptable. Scottish Planning Policy and our own National Park Partnership Plan and Local Development Plan all support sustainable development that helps to expand and vitalise the local economy while preserving important environmental and cultural assets, and we are content that this is the case, with this application.

“The building is set to be ‘state of the art’ and we consider it to be well designed and in a good location with suitable mitigation measures in place to combat ecological impacts. Subject to conditions and a legal agreement securing good pedestrian and cycle links between Dulnain Bridge and Grantown, I recommend we approve the application.”

The site of the proposed distillery.

The distillery is expected to bring a total of between six and 10 jobs to the area initially, which could increase to 20 full time equivalent roles when further shifts are introduced. Jobs at the café will be franchised out to a locally-based operator, according to planning documents.

The site can accommodate up to 50,000 visitors a year with no coach parties allowed.

The distillery has a circular design, which the CNPA has praised for being “carefully sited to fit into this landscape”, using the slope of the site itself to disguise much of the building work. Additionally, there are plans for grass/sedum roofs while existing riverside trees will be retained and a new pond created.

In addition, planning documents note that water intake and outtake pipes connecting with the nearby River Spey will be licensed and controlled by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

Eleanor Mackintosh, CNPA planning committee convener, added: “I congratulate the applicant on a thorough and well-presented application. This is a major development for the area and this will be the first malt whisky distillery to be approved by the Cairngorms National Park Authority since it was established in 2003.

“The food and drink sector and the tourism industry are both extremely important to the National Park economy – often going hand in hand as is the case here. I fully support the officer’s recommendation to approve the application. It is an innovative building to house a business that will provide long term economic benefits.”

Gordon & MacPhail’s parent company, Speymalt Whisky Distributors, told db‘s sister publication, The Spirits Business, about plans for a new site last year. 

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