A ROSS-SHIRE distillery set to break new ground in community ownership has toasted the arrival of a key member of staff tasked with making the dram a global brand.
GlenWyvis, which is to become the first 100 per cent community-owned distillery, this week unveiled its new manager and revealed that a second share offer campaign has hit its first £250,000 target.
The man tasked with developing the brand from scratch and helping to put Dingwall back on the distilling map is Duncan Tait, who has previous Ross-shire experience at Teaninich in Alness and with drinks giant Diageo during a 26-year career.
Mr Tait, who will move from his current post as manager of Mortlach Distillery in Speyside, said: “It is a tremendous opportunity to be part of a distilling journey at the very start, and to become the very first distillery manager at GlenWyvis. I have a strong affiliation with the Easter Ross area, having started my career at Teaninich Distillery in Alness, and I’m delighted to be coming back.
“There is such a wealth of Highland heritage linked to the distillery and I am particularly interested in how that interlinks with our community development aspirations as we welcome our first tours to GlenWyvis in due course.
“I have enjoyed many years whisky distilling in Speyside and see this as a fantastic career move to join the GlenWyvis team in the creation of the first 100 per cent community owned distillery.”
GlenWyvis, set to open next month, already had around 2600 members who invested £2.6 million in the original share offer in 2016.
The new open share offer has added a further 400 members in just two months — and this week reached the first “rung” of its £750,000 target with £250,000 sunk into the venture.
The share issue was launched to capitalise on continued interest from locals and visitors, GlenWyvis said.
The minimum investment has been pegged at £250 with supporters are also able to pay extra to have their name added to the distillery wall or the “path to the stills”.
David O’Connor, chairman of GlenWyvis Distillery said: “This is a particularly special appointment as it is the lynchpin to the next stage of our development, as we move from construction to distilling and production. We had a lot of good interest in this post – but there was one outstanding candidate.”
He said Mr Tait brings with him a wealth of distilling experience and in-depth knowledge of the whisky and tourism industry.
He added: “He has many years of experience in distillery growth and team development and this is vital to us, as we prepare to open our doors, start our distilling operation and look to develop the GlenWyvis visitor experience.
“He also has a great knowledge of the local area and local whisky history, and along with his great character and personality, he will most definitely help to make the GlenWyvis brand a success in the global whisky arena.” The new funds raised will be used to accelerate the GlenWyvis brand development, bring gin distilling to Dingwall and reduce lending costs.
James Proctor, programme manager at Community Shares Scotland said: “We are delighted to see this ambitious project hit its initial investment target so quickly and also congratulate them on this important appointment of the first distillery manager. “The growing numbers of GlenWyvis members is testament to the power of the idea of a community-owned distillery.
“It’s a great example of how a Community Shares offer can involve people and has expanded the idea of what a community business is. We look forward to the opening of the distillery and seeing more people take the opportunity to invest in this pioneering enterprise.”
The distillery will be entirely powered by green energy and is nearing completion at the Heights of Dochcarty in Dingwall.