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Dingwall's GlenWyvis Distillery mothballs plans for whisky attraction on shores of Loch Ness

By Alasdair Fraser

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Duncan Tait distillery manager at Glenwyvis Distillery is pictured with David Taylor, HIE account manager..
Duncan Tait distillery manager at Glenwyvis Distillery is pictured with David Taylor, HIE account manager..

A TRAIL-BLAZING Dingwall distillery has abandoned plans to create a whisky-themed tourist attraction by Loch Ness.

GlenWyvis Distillery, the world’s first in full community ownership, wanted to open the Loch Ness Whisky Experience in a cottage beside the Clansman Hotel.

It was to be a partnership venture with Cobbs, the firm that owns a variety of local tourism and hospitality businesses.

The idea was to tap into interest from the many thousands of visitors to the loch by illuminating the history of Highland whisky production and illicit distilling.

But it will be five more years before GlenWyvis is ready to sell its own brand whisky, now in production, with the company currently focussing on sales of award-winning gin.

Distillery manager Duncan Tait admitted the firm had jumped the gun in proposing the visitor centre on the A82 road between Inverness and Drumnadrochit.

Mr Tait explained: “We did a trial where we put our gin wagon down to the proposed site, since that’s what we produce at the moment.

“We got reasonable sales of gin, but the majority of tourists coming to Scotland want whisky.

“The whisky experience would be a good commercial opportunity, but we’re just not ready yet.

“At this point in our journey, it has to be commercially viable and we wouldn’t have anything to sell apart from gin, which doesn’t really tie in with the story.”

Before the Loch Ness-side venture was mooted, GlenWyvis Distillery was refused planning permission to create an on-site exhibition at their premises near Dingwall, with concerns over traffic and vehicle access. There are no immediate plans to revisit the idea, with the focus now purely on production.

To that end, GlenWyvis this month boosted a growing reputation for quality with a gold medal for its Christmas Goodwill Spiced Gin at the World Gin Awards 2020 in London. The company is also poised to launch a third gin this week – the cask-matured Quercus Alba, latin for ‘white oak’.

Mr Tait added: “We’re trying to bridge the gap between whisky and gin because we are a whisky and gin distillery. By maturing some of our gins in casks, we’re showing there is a middle ground.

“We started down that route with our Christmas spiced gin which received gold at the International Wines and Spirits Competition in November. This latest recognition at the World Gin Awards shows we’re on the right track.”

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