Torabhaig Distillery on the Isle of Skye has been transformed from a former farm steading into a working distillery.
The remarkable journey that Torabhaig Distillery has made from inception to its first release was detailed at a whisky tasting last week.
At the event, hosted by the Craft Whisky Club, the global brand manager of Torabhaig, Bruce Perry, revealed how the project had gone from identifying an old farmstead to bringing out its eagerly awaited first release of whisky from the Legacy Series coming out earlier this year.
Torabhaig, whose parent company is Mossburn Distillers, is only the second-ever licensed single malt Scotch whisky distillery on the Isle of Skye.
The former farmstead was identified as the ideal location for the distillery in 2014 and there then began a full restoration and rebuild project.
It was reckoned the factors were ideal for whisky production right down to the Allt Breacach and the Allt Gleann, the burns that feed the distillery with the purest island spring water.
The stone from which the building was built has a rich history of its own, having been hauled up from a ruined castle in the bay by horse and cart some 200 years ago.
The 19th Century building was fully restored by January 2017 when distillation could begin in the copper stills.
Torabhaig Distillery is born
On the plan for Torabhaig Distillery, Bruce explained: “The distillery was the brainchild of Sir Ian Noble, who worked for a merchant bank in Edinburgh, and owned the Eilean Iarmain Estate on the Isle of Skye. He had plans drawn up and he got planning permission to build a distillery.
“Unfortunately, he passed away a number of years ago and Mossburn Distillers at that time had been looking for the opportunity to buy or build a distillery. This came along on the Isle of Skye of all places and it was just the most wonderful opportunity.
“First of all, the distillery is a listed 1820 building and some of the stones came from the derelict Castle Camus which was on the shore and in sight of the steading and dates back to the 1400s. It was fought over by the MacLeods and the Macdonalds for a long time.
“We couldn’t just demolish the steading and build a distillery, we had to restore the building.
“The law was quite clear, we couldn’t go higher than the apex of the roof so that was the absolute maximum height – so the width of the building was established, the length of the building was established and the height was established.
“The stills had to fit in the building, so this building was going to have a part to play in the style of the whisky we make.
“The building speaks to us today through the whisky – this is our provenance, it’s our history, it’s our inheritance if you like.
“The stills are called Sir Ian and Lady Noble as a little nod to the people whose brainchild it was. Lady Noble is still with us and she tells us that Sir Ian would be very happy with how it turned out.”
The first release from Torabhaig, Legacy 1, was a complete sellout and members of the Craft Whisky Club were entered into a ballot for the remaining coveted bottles back in March.
It will be followed by Legacy 2 Allt Gleann, Legacy 3 Cnoc Na Moine, Legacy 4 Allt Breacach and The Torabhaig 10 Year Old over the next seven years.