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Blueprint revealed for Dingwall's £1.9million whisky showpiece


By SPP Reporter


John Mckenzie at the site where he plans to build a new community-owned Dingwall distillery. Picture: Ian Rhind
John Mckenzie at the site where he plans to build a new community-owned Dingwall distillery. Picture: Ian Rhind

THE designs and business case for a new £1.9 million whisky visitor centre expected to bring up to 32,000 visitors a year to Dingwall have been revealed this week, as the town’s distillery project gains momentum.

The GlenWyvis Community Benefit Society has ambitions to establish Dingwall as the craft distillery town of Scotland and has drawn up plans for a visitor and exhibition centre which is expected to create seven full-time jobs, and boost the local economy by £635,000 a year.

It will be linked to the new GlenWyvis Distillery to be built on a farm above the town as Scotland’s first ever community-owned distillery, which will run entirely on renewable energy.

Last week the building warrant and detailed plans for the distillery at Scroggie Farm were lodged with the local planning office. The distillery has already been granted outline planning approval and its whisky stills have been ordered and are due to be delivered in September.

Plans have also been submitted to build a master distiller’s house and two bonded warehouses.

The community share offer to fund the project will be launched online on April 16.

John Mckenzie, the founder of GlenWyvis Distillery who owns the farm where it will be based, explained this week there are different levels of investment they are looking to achieve.

An investment of £1.4 million will finance the distillery, but a higher level of £1.7 million will unlock phases of the project which include the warehouses and the house.

The GlenWyvis centre is expected to built in 2019 at a cost of £1.9 million – including £100,000 working capital - and is due to be funded by £1 million from community shares, £500,000 in bank loans and grants of £432,000.

The society is currently considering a site for the centre at the entrance to the town – the location of the Travis Perkins premises – which is where the original Ben Wyvis Distillery stood.

The building would house exhibitions on the whisky heritage and cultural history of the area, as well as an audio-visual exhibition space which would also be used as a 40-seater community cinema.

An eatery, called Gardener’s Bistro – to be run as a separate social enterprise - is also planned, as well as a shop selling craft distilled and brewed alcohol and whisky tours to the distillery.

The business case states the centre will host 50 community events a year and will help reverse “decades of decline in Dingwall” by providing a catalyst for redevelopment of the town as a viable tourist destination.

The proposal for the visitor centre has attracted public interest with 16,500 people viewing the plans for the building on GlenWyvis’s social media pages.

Mr Mckenzie also said that hundreds of people have registered interest in the share options for the distillery project in advance of it going live next month.

It is being supervised by Community Share Scotland and special shares will be offered to locals living in the IV1 to IV19 post code areas, to ensure local ownership of the distillery.

Mr Mckenzie described the visitor centre as a “project of a generation” and firmly believes it will put Dingwall back on the tourist map.

“It will be a huge boost to the town, bringing everyone on the North Coast 500 route through Dingwall,” said Mr Mckenzie.

He explained that it would be owned and operated by the community for the benefit of all.

Mr Mckenzie added that GlenWyvis was an exciting community project that needs everybody to get involved.

“The crowdfunding of a distillery has never been done before and we are expecting considerable interest from the whole of Scotland,” he said.

Contacted for comment, local councillor Alister Mackinnon said GlenWyvis should be congratulated on its plans and he expressed hope that it would be brought to fruition within the proposed timescale.

“I think it is a very exciting and innovative project and anything that brings investment into a town like Dingwall has to be welcomed,” he said.

“I would take issue with the claim that Dingwall has been in decline, it has suffered the same financial challenges as any other small town, but on the whole it has held its own, bearing it mind its proximity to Inverness.”

However, he added that he was in support of the project because it would bring investment, employment and tourists, as well as establishing an attractive development at the entrance of the town.

A video to launch the community crowdfunding will be filmed at various historic locations around the Dingwall area on Saturday, April 2 and Sunday, April 3.



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