A stillhouse dating back almost two centuries is to be dismantled and rebuilt stone-by-stone as part of drinks giant Diageo’s £35 million plans to bring two “lost” Highland malt whisky distilleries back into production.
Details of the project at Brora Distillery, in east Sutherland, were announced by the company after Highland Council granted it planning permission for the work.
Diageo said rebuilding the stillhouse as part of the restoration of the site’s original buildings, constructed in 1819, would ensure it “retains its original character, but is structurally capable of once more producing the finest quality spirit.”
Originally known as Clynelish Distillery, the Brora operation was closed in 1983, along with Port Ellen Distillery, on the Inner Hebridean island of Islay. A year ago Diageo announced plans to re-open both and bring them back into production.
The company’s Brora Distillery project implementation manager, Stewart Bowman, said: “This is a key milestone in our journey to bring Brora Distillery back into production.
“Everyone involved is raring to get going with the work to restore the beautiful distillery buildings so they can once more produce the spirit that Brora is famous for.
“We will now begin the painstaking work of bringing down and reconstructing the stillhouse.”
Diageo also plans to develop visitor centres at the Brora site, Caol Ila Distillery on Islay, Cardhu in Speyside and Glenkinchie in East Lothian, focusing on its Johnnie Walker brand.
A new “global visitor experience” devoted to the blended Scotch will be developed in Edinburgh as part of a £150m whisky tourism initiative announced by the company earlier this year.
Whisky making began at Clynelish in 1819, with the backing of the Marquess of Stafford. In the late 1960s it was decided to expand its output by building a new distillery, with the old operation eventually being used to supply heavily peated whisky for blending. Production of Brora whisky became regular in 1975, when the distillery’s name was changed.
Since their closure 35 years ago, bottles from Brora and Port Ellen have become among the most prized by single malt whisky collectors and investors. Diageo said Brora’s original distillation regimes and spirit character will “where possible” be replicated.