A group of residents in the Highland town of Dingwall is hoping to open Scotland’s first community owned craft whisky distillery. GlenWyvis Distillery Community Benefit Society (GlenWyvis) has launched a community share offer to raise over £1.5m for the project from locals in Dingwall.
The new GlenWyvis Distillery would be built on a farm above the town of Dingwall, owned by the community and powered by renewable energy.
GlenWyvis will be built on its whisky heritage, its community-ownership and its environmental credentials
One of the people behind the project, John McKenzie, is known as the Flying Farmer. A helicopter pilot, farmer and green energy advocate, he has been visiting Scottish distilleries for over ten years, looking to bring whisky distilling back to Dingwall. He is working with a board of directors and local community representatives who form part of the community benefit society.
“We have a truly winning combination here of a stunning Scottish Highland location, immense historical appeal and readily available hydro, solar and wind energy to bring this innovative whisky project to fruition,” said Mr McKenzie.
“From the outset we have envisaged the project as more than a distillery. It is an opportunity for all social investors to help reinvigorate the historic town of Dingwall. GlenWyvis will be built on its whisky heritage, its community-ownership and its environmental credentials. We have amazing local resources and will be using only local barley from a farmers’ co-operative – hence our strapline: ‘Built on history – powered by nature’.”
The price of a share in GlenWyvis Distillery is £50, with a minimum investment of £250 to become a member. The community benefit society is offering investment opportunities for as little as £250 to people living in the local area. But the share offer is also open to whisky lovers from across the world with investment opportunities rising to a maximum investment of £100,000. Those investing between £15,000 and £49,999 will also receive a 30 minute helicopter whisky history tour for four flown by the Flying Farmer as well as a private tour of the distillery and tasting master class.
The construction of the distillery is due to start in June 2016 and the first whisky will be produced for Burns Night on 25 January 2017. The project, which is supported by Community Shares Scotland (CSS), also aims to make Dingwall a popular tourist destination as the Craft Distillery Town of Scotland. The last of the town’s original distilleries closed down over 90 years ago.
Kelly McIntyre, programme manager of CSS, said: “This is one of the biggest community projects we have been involved in and we hope it will make a seismic impact in the kind of projects that we will see coming forward to work with Community Shares Scotland in the future.
“GlenWyvis has a truly international appeal with an amazing whisky heritage story which will strike a chord with expat Scots and the Scottish Diaspora worldwide and has the added impact of sitting nicely along the North Coast 500 route. And with its historic story links to Forbes of Culloden there is all the more reason for investors and visitors alike to become involved.”
Scott Armstrong, VisitScotland regional partnerships director, said: “In Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design, it is fantastic to hear about this innovative scheme, which ensures a high level of local ownership of the distillery. Whisky is one of our strongest draws for visitors and I am delighted that GlenWyvis has taken this opportunity to tell their own whisky heritage story.
“With an associated visitor centre also planned, this offers another stop-off point which we would hope will increase visitor numbers to the town. Without tourism, many remote communities would not be sustainable and business sectors like drinks, retail or construction would be severely impacted.
“Our visitor research has revealed that the one thing that makes Scotland different to any other destination is its ability to ‘stir your soul’. Through our ambitious new global Spirit of Scotland campaign and #ScotSpirit social movement, VisitScotland is working to raise the profile of Scotland to unprecedented levels as a place to visit, invest and live – and this project really does have #ScotSpirit!”
The share offer will close on 24 June but the board could extend the deadline if the amount raised is close to the total required.
- You can find more information on the offer at www.glenwyvis.com