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GlenWyvis distillery puts Loch Ness visitor attraction on hold; Dingwall community owned company toasts gin accolades as first whisky awaited

By Alasdair Fraser

Hundreds of people have a stake in GlenWyvis Distillery.
Picture: Gary Anthony
Hundreds of people have a stake in GlenWyvis Distillery. Picture: Gary Anthony

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

GlenWyvis Distillery, the world’s first in complete 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 who come to the famous loch every year in search of the elusive monster by illuminating the history of Highland whisky production and illicit distilling.

But it will be five more years before Glen Wyvis is ready to sell its own brand whisky, now in production, with the company currently focusing 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, Glen Wyvis Distillery was refused planning permission to create an on-site exhibition at their premises near Dingwall, with concerns over traffic volume and vehicle access.

Opening of Glen Wyvis Distillery...Picture: Gary Anthony. Image No..
Opening of Glen Wyvis Distillery...Picture: Gary Anthony. Image No..

There are no immediate plans to revisit the idea, with the focus now purely on production.

To that end, Glen Wyvis 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’s Glaziers Hall.

The company is also poised to launch a third gin onto the market this week, the cask-matured Quercus Alba gin, 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 a gold medal at the International Wines and Spirits Competition (IWSC) in London during November last year.

“To get this latest recognition at the World Gin Awards last week shows we’re on the right track.”

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