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Estate owner launches plans for distillery beside the Dornoch Firth

The Midfearn Estate at Easter Fearn in the Dornoch Firth National Scenic Area

A textiles entrepreneur has launched a bid to build a whisky distillery on his family estate beside the Dornoch Firth.

Charlie Brooke’s family has owned the 13,000-acre Midfearn Estate, where the proposed distillery will be, for nearly 130 years.

His company, the Midfearn Distillery Company Ltd, has lodged outline plans for a new malt whisky distillery with Highland Council.

The Midfearn Estate at Easter Fearn is three miles south-east of the village of Ardgay.

Historic ties

The plan hearkens back into the area’s history where whisky was first made more than 200 years ago.

The Easter Fearn site is close to what is believed to be the location of the Midfearn Distillery established in 1798 by local businessman, George Ross. This closed after a few years in operation and Mr Ross went on to work with other local distilling interests.

The estate has been in the Brooke family since 1893.

Mr Brooke, who is the scion of a historic Yorkshire wool cloth manufacturer John Brooke and Sons, believes the distillery will be an important development in providing employment and economic benefit to the wider community.

Community benefit

He said: “The Scotch whisky industry has advanced significantly since the opening of the first Midfearn Distillery and we will not only set out to make a distinctive and high-quality whisky, but we will prioritise environmental sustainability and work towards carbon neutrality at every stage of the project.

“This is a family business that will build and grow this enterprise on a beautiful site within the Dornoch Firth National Scenic Area and we look forward to working with the local community to return whisky-making to Easter Fearn, with all the benefits that will bring to the economy of the area.”

Midfearn Estate already provides electricity from existing wind and hydro power projects and the long-term sustainability of its energy source will form an important element of the distillery’s development, the company added.

Mr Brook is also a director of the Highland Tweed House in Beauly.

A Proposal of Application Notice (PAN) has been submitted to Highland Council’s planning department.

Consultation event

This starts a public consultation phase during which the local community will have the opportunity to see and comment on the proposals.

There will be an initial, face-to-face consultation event at Edderton Village Hall on Wednesday 1st December, from 3pm till 7pm with supporting information available on the midfearndistillery.co.uk website from Friday 19th November.

A further virtual consultation event will be held on Thursday 20th January 2021 from 3pm till 7pm, including a live chat facility.

After completion of the consultation process, the company would be cleared to submit a detailed planning application.

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