Andy Gem­mell’s Drinks Cab­i­net

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GlenWyvis Dis­tillery Ding­wall

His­tory: On St An­drew’s day of last year a new dis­tillery opened in Ding­wall, some 90 years af­ter the last one closed its doors. It’s no tra­di­tional dis­tillery – it stands proudly as a piece of state-of-theart ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign, set on a hill­side over­look­ing Ding­wall and the Cro­marty Firth; run purely on so­lar, hy­dro, wind and biomass re­new­ables.

It’s not only the ex­te­rior that sets GlenWyvis apart, but its ethos. It’s com­pletely com­mu­ni­ty­owned af­ter rais­ing more than £3 mil­lion through crowd­fund­ing ini­tia­tives. The own­ers chose St An­drew’s Day to fire up their stills, fol­low­ing a two-year build and mak­ing the dis­tillery 100% pow­ered by re­new­able en­ergy. John McKenzie, founder and manag­ing di­rec­tor of GlenWyvis, de­cided to fol­low the com­mu­ni­ty­own­er­ship model as it would bring ben­e­fits to lo­cal peo­ple, and help se­cure a le­gacy for the town.

The whole com­mu­nity is be­hind the project with 60% of in­vestors com­ing from the lo­cal post­code, and more than 70% from Scot­land. The ad­di­tional in­vest­ment has ar­rived from a to­tal of 40 coun­tries. All dis­tillery de­ci­sions are made with the com­mu­nity at the cen­tre. The com­pany’s con­sti­tu­tion en­sures that nine of 12 board mem­bers must be demo­crat­i­cally elected from within the IV post­code. The spirit: They have been mak­ing gin here since 2015 with plans to take all pro­duc­tion in house this year. Good­will High­land Gin is made us­ing nine pre­mium botan­i­cals, in­clud­ing hand-picked hawthorn berries from a neigh­bour­ing farm. The gin’s per­fect serve is a gen­er­ous amount of Good­will over ice, qual­ity tonic wa­ter and add curl of or­ange peel with a sprig of bruised co­rian­der. Like most new dis­til­leries, the gin is made first with the whisky be­ing the ul­ti­mate goal for the long term.

Favourite dram: The whisky here won’t be ready un­til 2021. The whiskies will be cre­ated us­ing only lo­cal bar­ley and ma­tured in bour­bon, re­fill bour­bon and sherry casks. In Jan­uary last year the com­pany re­leased an in­de­pen­dent bot­tling from dif­fer­ent high­land dis­til­leries called High­land In­spi­ra­tion.

This was a lim­ited batch of only 1,600 bot­tles of High­land sin­gle malt whisky, care­fully se­lected and bot­tled for GlenWyvis to mark the lay­ing of the dis­tillery’s in­au­gu­ral key­stone.

Why visit? I don’t be­lieve they have opened to the pub­lic yet (but hope­fully will be soon) but that’s not to say you can’t give them a phone and ask nicely to pay them a visit to see the in­cred­i­ble job they do. This is now one of Scot­land’s most for­ward-think­ing dis­til­leries with an amaz­ing story and ethos. The fact they turned a green field into a work­ing dis­tillery in less than a year still as­tounds me.

In­ter­est­ing fact: They named the dis­tillery af­ter two lost dis­til­leries in the area – Ben Wyvis and Glen­ski­ach. Like many of Scot­land’s lost dis­til­leries both of these fell vic­tim to the tur­bu­lent times dur­ing the global eco­nomic de­pres­sion around the 1920s. Glen­ski­ach was soon de­mol­ished af­ter this but Ben Wyvis re­mained stand­ing un­til the 1990s, when it was de­mol­ished. GlenWyvis now stands as a re­minder of the area’s proud dis­till­ing his­tory.

Fol­low me on twit­ter @andy­drink or on Face­book

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