BRITAIN’S most northerly great house is to be turned into a Scotch whisky distillery.
Planning permission has been granted to build a distillery at Dunrobin Castle in
Sutherland in the Scottish Highlands.
The grand old castle, which dates back to the 1300s, is the family seat of Clan Sutherland and was used as a boarding school before being opened to the public.
During the Jacobite rising of 1745, Dunrobin was stormed without warning because Clan Sutherland supported the British army.
Now, the historic castle, which was owned by Lord Strathnaver, son of the Countess of Sutherland, will house a new ‘single estate’ Scotch whisky distillery after plans were given the go-ahead by Highland Council.
The project is the brainchild of husband and wife team Boban Costin and Elizabeth Sutherland, a granddaughter of the former head of Clan Sutherland.
Dunrobin Highland distillery will be situated in the ancient castle’s former powerhouse whilst the property’s farm steadings will be turned into warehouses.
The new distillery will make a single malt style of whisky as well as two different gins.
The unpeated whiskies produced will be similar to those made at the Glendronach distillery, in Aberdeenshire, which can cost upwards of £150 a bottle.
Barley will be sourced from the estates own farm and gin botanicals will be grown in its gardens. Water will be sourced from the Cagar Foesaig mountain spring, which is located on the castle grounds.
Dunrobin’s distillery will produce 95,000 litres of whisky a year and this figure is expected to eventually grow to 300,000 litres. It is expected to become operational in June 2018.
Costin, a former lawyer, told Scotchwhisky.com: “We’re not sure what style of whisky we’ll create yet, but it will be something that my wife and I enjoy drinking – sherried and unpeated, a bit like Glenfarclas or GlenDronach.
“We want to use all the materials from the estate so it’s going to be very special. Building will start in the next two or three years and then will take a year.
“In three years the first batch of whisky will come out. At the moment i’d rather not mention costs but we’re really excited with the whole project.”
Sutherland, who currently works as a GP in Dornoch, also told Scotchwhisky.com: “Our goals for the distillery are very ambitious but our family motto is Sans Peur, without fear, and we are approaching this project in that manner.
“It’s hard to say how the idea came about but it’s all fallen into place. The area has a great water source and the barley is grown next door on the farm so there’s huge scope to do something special and add to the Dunrobin experience.
“With respect for my family and the local community’s rich history and tradition, we aim to produce a premium craft, single-estate single malt whisky and gin in the Highland way.
“We’re bringing the old power house back to life which hasn’t been used since the 1920s and was originally built in 1907.
“With this project we are also aiming to boost local tourism by creating a unique distillery experience for visitors to Dunrobin Castle and the wider Golspie and Highlands area.”
Dunrobin Castle welcomes over 70,000 visitors to its grounds each year.
The 73,000 visitors it received last year was the highest number in over 20 years.
Visit https://scotchwhisky.com/ for more details on the industry.